|About the Book|
Wileys most critical examination of the effects of the Civil War on the lives of its participationWidely hailed for his realistic portrayals of the common soldier of the Civil War, Bell Irvin Wiley upset carefully cultivated, deeply held southernMoreWileys most critical examination of the effects of the Civil War on the lives of its participationWidely hailed for his realistic portrayals of the common soldier of the Civil War, Bell Irvin Wiley upset carefully cultivated, deeply held southern myths about the Lost Cause with the 1944 publication of The Plain People of the Confederacy. His engaging and timeless look at the Confederate experience of soldiers, African Americans, and women also sparked a debate about the reasons for southern defeat that continues among historians to this day. Republished here with Paul Escotts new introduction and fresh appraisal of the books influence, this classic work reveals a far more complex, conflicted, and intriguing society than the unified and idealized version created and perpetuated in the wake of surrender.Wiley broke new ground by challenging southern myths about a contented and loyal slave population, a self-sacrificing citizenry united in support of states rights, and a military unmarred by cowardice and vice. Unearthing a wealth of correspondence, government documents, and other firsthand accounts, Wiley brought to center stage the question of popular morale and insisted on its importance in shaping the fate of the Confederacy. He showed that the Confederacy was racked by dissension and that the heart of the Souths problems lay in class resentments and poor governmental policy rather than in military reverses.