The Divided Family in Civil War America is basically about the division that resulted during the civil war in America. Taylor depicts the results of the civil war on the Americans; the war divided Americans along the tribal lines, ethnic backgrounds, color and gender (Taylor, 2005). Taylor uses the metaphor divided family to depict how Americans divided after the war. Taylor depicts the gap that emerged between people in America; family relations were divided and broken. Women turned against their husbands, brothers against their brothers, women against their fellow women and, fathers against their women and family (Taylor, 2005:86). Taylor explains that the cause of division is based on the political interests. Additionally, Taylor explains that the civil war brought a great change in the social context of American society. For example, women started to make their choices, unlike the old days where women were discriminated and were never involved in decision-making on matters that majorly affected the society.
Taylors book depicts the change in the social relations amongst Americans during the civil war. According to Taylor (2005), the war resulted in the privatization of properties; it marked the end of communism way of living. The book tries to explain how people related during the civil war in America; how families related with another family and the relations amongst the same family members. People had different perception about the war and as a result, a division emerged out of the different opinions. Taylor explains the experience during the war through examining the various households around the border state. Family members fought for themselves and other families for various reasons. According to Taylor, some fought their fellows in an attempt to secure resources while others fought because their opponents had a different opinion than their own. America was divided along different social classes; even amongst the same class there emerged a conflict of interest. Taylor surveys some documents that help him to explain the status of the country during the war. For example, he collects information from the newspapers, letters that were sent by people during the war and, the documents that were kept by the government about the war. Taylor (2005) explains that the civil war did not just affect the status of America, but it got to the private lives of the Americans; it left many people devastated and lost in the middle of a crisis. For example, some of the documents he used to collect the information about the war include the letters sent by family to the other members. Taylor (2005) further argues that people used a common language that they could only understand amongst the family members so as to prevent the message reaching the wrong recipient; if the letter got to the wrong person, he/she could not understand it because the language used was a language that could only be understood by a family member only. Taylor uses the letters to show how the war got into personal lives of people. Taylor explains that tension arouses between family members despite the minimal communication. Additionally, he argues that the hard life in America also intensified the tension further. According to Taylor, crossing borders was a difficult task and communicating with family members or relatives who lived in other places was very difficult. Taylor uses characters such as Joseph, who moved to Virginia and left his brothers behind in New Jersey to show the division that emerged between the families.
This book has both weakness and strengths. Strength: first, the author has integrated various cultural aspects to explain the real situation of America during the civil war. Taylor has depicted the conflict in America by engaging the readers emotions. A second strength of the book is that the author has used a familiar context to explain the historic events of the civil war that almost everybody can easily identify with. The family is something that everyone is familiar with and can easily relate with. Taylor has tried to make the content simple for the readers to understand. Third, Taylor has involved the various aspects of family that most readers can identify with. For examples, she examines the civil war in various aspects; for example, son-father relations, marriage and courtship relations and brothers-brother and sister-sister conflict relations. Everyone can identify with the content and understand it better. Taylor also attempts to explain the historical events on how peace emerged through the reconciliation and reunion of different groups of people in America. Taylors concepts can is related to the Blights concepts about the impacts of civil war in America. According to Blight (2001), families were affected and traumatized by the civil war. Despite the attempt by divided families to reunite with their loved ones, it was almost impossible because of the different ideologies that people developed (Blight, 2001). Taylor uses romantic and familial themes that make it easier for readers to identify with the content.
Weakness: first, the author has shown weakness in her argument is her concentration on a single geographical area. Taylor based her arguments on the Border States only that does not give experience from other places where civil war affected. Taylor has not explored some other areas in America where civil war also affected other than the Border States. This book helps us understand and identify with the affected during the civil war. It also helps us understand the historical events and how they took place during the civil war. Taylor has used simple and more familiar content that students can easily relate with, thus understanding the American history during the civil war.
"All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South" by Stephen W. Berry
"All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South" are about the appreciation that men showed during and after the civil war in America. Berry (2002) examines the perception of womens participation in the civil war through the different letters and diaries he uses to obtain his information. According to Berry (2002), men showed their gratitude to their women after the war despite the differences in ideology that emerged during and after the war. Despite the fact that people were divided along the races, women still stood by their men who were at war. Berry depicts the role of women in motivating the men. He examines the communities in the South who showed their appreciation and gratitude to their women; Berry explains that the Confederate veterans in the South managed to win the war because they got motivation from their loved ones, women. The book embraces the feminist ideology that attempts to appreciate the contribution of women in the society.
Berry surveyed samples of the letters and diaries of the men from the South in which he explains that the Southern men praised their women for standing by them during and after the crisis that left many families divided. Berry explains argues that the communities that came out of the war victorious managed because of the emotional support they received from the families. Berry depicts the emotional attachment that existed between the soldiers and their wives; through samples of the letters he examined, Laurence Keitt, he argues that women were seen as the reason behind the victory of men who survived the war. In another letter of Henry Craft, he argues that the soldiers who fought in the battlefield managed to come back because of the emotional attachment they had with their women (Berry, 2002). Berry showed that most of the soldiers who came back from the battlefield dedicated their victory and achievement to their women.
Berry engages in a historiographical debate in which he uses the letters of the participants to explain the role of women in mens emotional lives. He argues that women determined the mens ambitions; mens ambitions could not be justified without noticing women in the process. Berry depicts the sacrifices that women made to their men during the tough times of war. In his historiographical debate, Berry explains how the white women were seen as sex objects and how men negotiated over women. As a result, Berry depicts the cultural tension that emerged as a result of the war. Berry identifies with the women in his historiographical debate in which he argues that women were seen as a symbol of moral purity in American society despite the few people who perceived women as sex objects. Berry argues that women still emerged victorious after the war; they played a significant role during the war.
The book has both weaknesses and strengths. Weaknesses: Berry has concentrated much on the femininity role in the society than masculinity. Most of his arguments are concentrated on the significance of the women in civil war. Berry identifies with women and the important function they played in supporting their men during the hard times of war. In his historiographical debate about the significance of women during the civil war, Berry majorly sided with the women and criticized the mens attitude towards women. Strength: first, the author appreciates the emotional support of women to their men. Berry shows the dynamism nature of the society that things are changing, and people no longer believe in the old ways they used to; women are only objects and does not need to be engaged in the decision-making. Berry encourages women to participate in the societal matters; although women did not go to the field to fight the war, their role is well evident through the letters and diaries that Berry surveyed on how the soldiers expressed their adoration for their women.
The two books have examined the American history during the civil war; the two authors, Taylor, and Berry survey the experiences of the participants to explain the personalities of the affected during the war. Taylor surveys the letters and diaries of the few people who participated in the war; on the other hand, Berry also examines the historical events using the letters and diaries of the affected from the war. The two authors appreciate the role women played during the Civil War; although, Berry gives the femininity more emphasis than Taylor. Berry explains the motivation of women to their men during the war. The two books explain the experiences during the civil war and after the war. Berry argues that mens love for their women was the major motivational factor that encouraged men to fight for their countries. Although Taylor also examines the role women played in establishing peace after the war, he majorly concentrates on the social class differences; the whites versus the blacks. The two authors depict the slavery during the civil war; Taylor shows the slavery of the black people over the whites while Berry depicts the slavery of women to men. Berry argues that women were seen as objects to men while Taylor argues that black people were subjected to the white people. Taylors book helps readers understand the different social classes that existed in America; the slaves and the masters and how they were treated. Berrys book, on the other hand, helps us understand the importance of women in motivating and changing mens positive attitude towards their country. The book helps us appreciate the significance of women in the society; women are also important just to men.
In conclusion, this paper has reviewed two books "The Divided Family in Civil War America" by Amy Murrell Taylor and "All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South" by Stephen W. Berry. The two books help us understand the history of America during the civil war. The two books...
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