Play Dead (Reaction Paper 9)

Oh boy did this week readings provide a reaction. The Confederates in the Attic written by Tony Horwitz tells the story how people felt in the south today about the civil war and segregation. Their interpretation is completely different than that of the Yankee. Another interpretation is how National Parks Services differ from southern US states and also different from education. Each interpretation has value, but is it accurate?

Horwitz book did not have any footnotes or bibliographies which means we cannot trace any sort of historical accuracy of his sources except perhaps acknowledgements. It would require a lot of digging to find out all the oral histories. Nonetheless the book provides colorful descriptions about how southerners felt about the war. The author goes on a big traveling tour and meet all kinds of people to help him write his book. One person he found at the Lee-Jackson party. On page 35 Tarlton says “Bunch of dirt poor farmers, most folk around here… didn’t own any slaves. He adds “The way I saw it… They [Confederate army] were fighting for their honor as men.” Horwitz then found a Charleston man like himself named Westendorff. Westendorff gave his own view how of slaves lived. “Slave quarters were called carriage houses.” (Page 61). That just the way it was.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the statue in North Carolina. The author meet up with Ward and they had a discussion about the statue. “He don’t look right.” said Ward (page 73) The statue is supposed to be a confederate troop, but it turns out to be a Yankee in confederate clothing. “Its like being told there is no Santa Clause.” Which is such a interesting anecdote. The town Kingstree decided to leave it up in case of taking it down causes more pubic stir. Walt is the last interesting character who is part of the “National Alliance, a Neo Nazi group” (page 82). His thoughts were the most vivid in his book perhaps too vivid. Something that National Park Services NPS could get in trouble for.

The NPS under went many changes making themselves split away from normal history  education. Director Horace Albright sent Verne E. Chatelain to a new way of doing history. This new history will be more research intensive than the educational school, but NPS should still be set up like a classroom. Chatelain’s successor Historian Ronald F. Lee takes this process further with new approach to interpreting history. His thought we should use all American history themes to tell our stories of National Parks. The main difference is using primary material to talk about the parks.



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