“Confederates in the Attic” – Book Review

“Confederates in the Attic”, by Tony Horwitz, published by Random House, Inc.
Book Review by Gary Van Kauwenbergh

If you want to take a break from reading history, but still want to read about the Civil War, this book is a hoot. This book does have a smattering of history salted inside of its pages, but it’s really a book about what contemporary southerners think about the “War of Northern Aggression.” and how it still affects their lives.

Author Horwitz turns his childhood fascination with the Civil War into the topic for this book, and takes a yearlong tour throughout the South gathering material. His travels take him through the Carolinas, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Along the way he interviews people ranging from small town historians, African-American activists, hard-core confederate reenactors, and white supremacists. The confederate flag controversy comes up more than once.

The extremists Horwitz meets certainly yield the most colorful interviews, but this isn’t just a book about extremists. This book is humorous and revealing to be sure, but Horwitz also both insightful and profound in many of his observations on the intensely proud, often obsessive, and sometimes lackadaisical attitudes of the people he meets. Each encounter is covered in its own chapter, and Horwitz reflects on his experiences in the final chapter

This book was enjoyable reading. It’s obvious why it was a national bestseller for months, and won the Pulitzer Prize. First published in 1998, 390 pages, easy reading, and can be commonly found at most used bookstores in paperback for just a few dollars.