The Last Generation Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion Synopsis
This book deals with coming of age in the 1850s and '60s. Challenging the popular conception of Southern youth on the eve of the Civil War as intellectually lazy, violent, and dissipated, Peter Carmichael looks closely at the lives of more than one hundred young white men from Virginia's last generation to grow up with the institution of slavery. He finds them deeply engaged in the political, economic, and cultural forces of their time. Carmichael argues that their experiences force us to reexamine the nature of Southern manhood and shed new light on the formation and reformation of Southern identity during the turbulent last half of the nineteenth century.
The Last Generation Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion Press Reviews
A careful examination. . . . By stressing the economically based generational component of the Old Dominion's late antebellum political culture, Carmichael has added a new dimension to an old discussion.--Southern Quarterly Carmichael's look at Virginia's 'last generation'--men born between 1830 and 1842, who grew up with the institution of slavery and reached political maturity during the intra-party convulsions of the 1850s--offers a . . . complex and multifaceted understanding. . . . His work will stand as a compelling description of the motivations and mentalities of the men who clamored loudest for Virginia's entry into the war, and then labored hardest to pull it out of the wreckage.--Civil War Times All readers will appreciate [Carmichael's] creative and often compelling re-reading of letters and diaries to find a common worldview within a generation.--Journal of Southern History A well-researched and intriguing study. . . . An ambitious project.--Georgia Historical Quarterly An impressive study that illuminates the lost world of young Virginians. . . . This 'generational study' paints a fascinating social, political, and intellectual portrait of Virginia over the course of several decades. . . . The Last Generation is unquestionably an important study. Carmichael's lucid writing, sharp analysis, and stimulating interpretations make this a welcome contribution to the history of the nineteenth-century South.--Southern Historian A significant book, a work of intellectual history that explores the beliefs of an important group of Confederates. The narrative moves well and is thought-provoking. Highly recommended.--The Virginian Carmichael should be congratulated for offering fresh insights and interpretations that will engage southern and Civil War historians for some time to come. . . . An important, insightful book. It does what a good work of Civil War history should do: it shines new light on an oft-studied period so that we see it in a new way, thus opening up new avenues of thought and potential research.--H-South Using a generational approach to study the motivations and actions of the South's most diehard defenders, Carmichael both enlightens and entertains.--North and South Peter Carmichael has written a useful, sometimes penetrating, account of Virginia males who came of age shortly before secession and the Civil War. . . . The Last Generation sheds new light on Virginia politics and society during the era of sectional conflict.--North Carolina Historical Review This fascinating book creatively tackles a number of old chestnuts in the historiography of the Civil War era: the late-blooming Southern nationalism in the Upper South, the role of slavery in Southern ideology, and the postwar reunion between the North and the South. Carmichael provides valuable reinterpretations of Southern religion and honor.--Civil War History This excellent study will confirm what teenagers have known forever; that parents are just not cool.--The NYMAS Review [Carmichael] contributes significantly to ongoing debates about southern identity, secession, and social, cultural, and ideological continuity across the tumultuous years of Civil War and Reconstruction. . . . Carmichael's engaging study reminds us that there were many versions of southern manliness and honor and many roads to secession.--Journal of American History Deeply researched and well-argued. . . . This well-written and sensitively argued study should be required reading for all scholars of Southern history and the Civil War.--Journal of Military History Carmichael reviews the experience of young Virginians, 'the last generation of white Southerners to grow up with . . . slavery.'--Washington Times Carmichael's book is an important vehicle for understanding the relationship between proslavery thought in higher education and the Civil War.--Reviews in American History Peter S. Carmichael provides an important contribution to both subfields [social and military history] and in doing so enhances the reader's appreciation of the Civil War as the nation's seminal event.--American Historical Review [An] engaging and original study. . . . Full of new insights.--Register of Kentucky Historical Society