Arguably, no event since the American Revolution has had a greater impact on US history than the Civil War. This devastating and formative conflict occupies a permanent place in the nation's psyche and continues to shape race relations, economic development, and regional politics. Naturally, an event of such significance has attracted much attention from historians, and tens of thousands of books have been published on the subject. Despite this breadth of study, new perspectives and tools are opening up fresh avenues of inquiry into this seminal era.
In this timely and thoughtful book, Paul D. Escott surveys the current state of Civil War studies and explores the latest developments in research and interpretation. He focuses on specific issues where promising work is yet to be done, highlighting subjects such as the deep roots of the war, the role of African Americans, and environmental history, among others. He also identifies digital tools which have only recently become available and which allow researchers to take advantage of information in ways that were never before possible. Rethinking the Civil War Era is poised to guide young historians in much the way that James M. McPherson and William J. Cooper Jr.'s Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand did for a previous generation. Escott eloquently charts new ways forward for scholars, offering ideas, questions, and challenges. His work will not only illuminate emerging research but will also provide inspiration for future research in a field that continues to adapt and change.
"Paul D. Escott is one of the most important Civil War scholars of his generation, with the required depth of knowledge, graceful pen, and nimble mind necessary to undertake this ambitious, challenging, and important book." -- Barton A. Myers, author of Rebels against the Confederacy: North Carolina's Unionists
"Paul D. Escott gets right to the point about the Civil War: "celebrations of the war's results have been exaggerated." The Wake Forest history professor puts the conflict in a global perspective."" -- Milwaukee Express
"This is... an essay on new ideas and techniques in the study of the period and its importance in American history. Rethinking the Civil War is an important read for every Civil War scholar." -- NYMAS Review
"Escott urges this generation of investigators to take full advantage of new tools that have only recently become available for compiling and analyzing data in ways never before possible. Escott backs up his challenges with chapters that could well be used by researchers, graduate students, newly minted academics, and others as a treasure map revealing pots of topical gold to be discovered and mined." -- America's Civil War
"In this timely and thoughtful book, Escott surveys the current state of Civil War studies and explores the latest developments in research and interpretation. Escott eloquently charts new ways forward for scholars, offering ideas, questions, and challenges. His work will not only illuminate emerging research but will also provide inspiration for future research in a field that continues to adapt and change." -- Outrider News Service
" Rethinking the Civil War is an important read for every Civil War scholar." -- Strategy Page
"Paul Escott's Rethinking the Civil War Era offers both a state-of-the-field survey of Civil War scholarship and a plethora of suggestions for new research. Anyone who attempts to keep up with the outpouring of writing and digital projects on the Civil War will agree that Escott has provided a helpful orientation to a constantly-evolving field." -- On Point
"Given the plethora of work published about the American Civil War, what more can be said? Escott's Rethinking the Civil War offers some suggestions. Escott also surveys the historiography and concisely sketches out some of the big questions historians have wrestled with in writing about the war. Any scholar working in this era would benefit from Escott's insights." -- Journal of Southern History