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'Bloody Carnage'

Joe Holley

For regular readers of Post obits, Bob Thompson's story in today's Style section is absolutely required reading.It's a fascinating profile of Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard since last year and the author of a provocative new book about the Civil War. Entitled "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War," it explores what Thompson calls a "deceptively simple question." The question is, "How did bloody carnage on a scale unprecedented in this country change the society that had to cope with it?"

Faust notes that some 620,000 soldiers died in four years, "the equivalent of 6 million Americans today." And imagine this (from the book): After the Battle of Gettysburg, "an estimated six million pounds of human and animal carcasses lay strewn across the field in the summer heat."

Thompson quotes University of Virginia historian Gary Gallagher: "It's impossible to read this book and hang on to romantic assumptions about the Civil War."

By Joe Holley |  February 7, 2008; 1:55 PM ET  | Category:  Joe Holley
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