War on Record: The Archive and the Afterlife of the Civil War (Hardcover)

War on Record: The Archive and the Afterlife of the Civil War By Yael A. Sternhell Cover Image

War on Record: The Archive and the Afterlife of the Civil War (Hardcover)


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A history of the United States’ greatest archival project and how it has shaped what we know about the Civil War
Shortlisted for the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize

The Civil War generated a vast archive of official records—documents that would shape the postwar era and determine what future generations would know about the war. Yael Sternhell traces these records from their creation during wartime through their deployment in a host of postwar battles, including those between the federal government and Southerners seeking reparations and between veterans blaming each other for defeat.
These documents were eventually published in the most important historical collection ever to have been assembled in the United States: The War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and the Confederate Armies. Known as the OR, it is the ultimate source for generations of scholars and writers and ordinary citizens researching the war. By delving into the archive, Sternhell reveals its power to shape myths, hide truths, perpetuate rancor, and foster reconciliation. Far more than a storehouse of papers, the Civil War archive is a major historical actor in its own right.
Yael Sternhell teaches history and American studies at Tel Aviv University. She is the author of Routes of War: The World of Movement in the Confederate South. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300234145
ISBN-10: 0300234147
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English
Shortlisted for the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize

“A meticulously researched and conceptually innovative work that reminds us that archives are never objectively constructed nor intended to be objective and that there is always a price of admission, even for historians. This important book will forever change how we enter and use this archive.”—Thavolia Glymph, author of The Women’s Fight

“Professor Sternhell’s account of the creation of the official records of the American Civil War is a compelling story of an archival achievement almost as full of twists and turns as the war itself.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

War on Record is a timely and original investigation of the creation of historical archives, a stunning and stellar contribution to our understanding of the Civil War and postwar white reconciliation.”—Martha Hodes, author of My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering

“In elucidating prose, Sternhell offers a compelling history of what we know about the Civil War and how we know it. War on Record is not only an indispensable book for Civil War historians but a brilliant primer for anyone searching to understand the past.”—Jim Downs, author of Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine