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Not Now

The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972

Book Reviews
The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience. By Emory M.
Thomas. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1971. Pp. x+ 150.
Footnotes, selected bibliography, index. $5.95.)
This book is an excellent, well-organized synthesis of certain aspects
of secondary works. It is not based on research among original docu-
ments. Indeed, such was not logically required, and as the author
says the study was "for the most part . .. rethinking and synthesizing"
(p. ix). Hence, it has few footnotes and a very selected bibliography,
but refers frequently to certain writers and their works, whose views
the author is accepting.
Thomas, who teaches at the University of Georgia, is a bold thinker,
and he uses a style of writing that is sometimes equally bold, which
might indicate that he enjoys playing with words that say something
which he does not quite mean. For instance, to say that the Confed-
erate navy was made up "for the most part . . . of patriotic pirates
and smugglers" (p. 52), seems to be turning the clock back a hundred
years and more to the bitterest propaganda of the war years. However
much one might argue that Admiral Semmes was a pirate, it is defi-
nitely a mistake to call General Forrest a "slave driver" (p. 1lo),
a position awarded to a slave; Forrest was a slave trader.
But the author's major thrust is to use the word revolution to de-
scribe the South's secession from the Union and the Confederacy's
wartime departures from the normal as it attempted to fight the war
more successfully by "(1) raising an army, (2) controlling its cit-
izens, and (3) managing its economy" (p. 6o). But what the Confed-
eracy did was no more "revolutionary" than what the United States
did during the two world wars. Yet the word is not applied to the
latter. All of this seems to indicate that the word "revolution," in
use so much today (but in a little different sense than the author uses
it), seems to make a catchy title. Thomas places antebellum radicals,
fire-eaters, revolutionaries, and Southern nationalists, all into the
same class.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 5, 2016.

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