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The Lost Cause - who has read it?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Andersonh1, Nov 14, 2017.

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The Lost Cause - have you read the book?

  1. Yes, I have read the book

    4 vote(s)
    26.7%
  2. No, I have not read the book

    11 vote(s)
    73.3%
  1. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 1st Lieutenant

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    I downloaded "The Lost Cause" by Edward Pollard after hearing the term thrown about frequently over the past few years, with an eye toward reading it. I want to see if "Lost Cause" is being correctly used by the various pundits and writers who seem so fond of it. And I have to say, "The Lost Cause" is a hefty book at 760 pages or so, so it's a decent time commitment to get through it. Has anyone here ever actually read the book? If you have and want to give us your thoughts, I'd be interested.
     

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  3. Scott Bowden

    Scott Bowden Corporal

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    Yes, multiple times. I discuss it in Chapter One of my first volume of the Robert E Lee at War series...volume titled Tragic Secessionist.
     
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  4. Hawkins

    Hawkins Private

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    I have read parts of when checking the claims of other historians discussing Pollard's work, but I can't say I have read it cover to cover.

    Have you read The Myth Of The Lost Cause And Civil War History edited by Gallagher and Nolan? A couple of the essay do address Pollard's work to some degree.
     
  5. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

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    I have had that book since the mid 70's and yet to read it from cover to cover. I have read certain subject matters that I may have thought were interesting. The thing I have always kept in mind is he had to be highly bias when writing so I take what he write more to the tune of, " What was the people of Richmond really thinking or hearing" more than what was the real truth.
     
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  6. Hawkins

    Hawkins Private

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    I could see that. I might also suggest that it might be helpful to compare Pollard's 1866 work, The Lost Cause, with his later work, The Lost Cause Regained, to examine the differences between the two.
     
  7. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

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    Interesting thought, have you by chance done that yet? I had a hard time really getting into every page reading his first one from 1866. Of course in my opinion there should be a huge difference just because when he wrote what he did in 1866, he also penned a lot of what he was writing during the war and had no type reference which to pull the entire view of what really did happen. Most I think came from so called reporters in the field adding their view and making some of them at best truthful.
    I read many times that most trusting generals really had no use for reporters for most of what they did write was fabrications and if any truth did come from their reporting it was just cause to have them kicked out because they were giving out information as to who and where the troops were or going. I do know Sherman and Grant really didn't care for them hanging around. McClellen on the other hand....whew! I think he made sure they were everywhere telling how grand things were with him in command.
    Pollard in his 1866, tried his best to make it sound as the South was winners even when they were not but I am going back to him really being bias in his writing which I am sure most were during that time on either side. Heck we have “fake news” today….
     
  8. Hawkins

    Hawkins Private

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    I can not say that I have undertaken that task yet, but it is on the list of projects that I might complete depending on the need after more detailed literature review and the free to time to complete such a review. I seem to recall reading some work to that effect, but I can not recall any details at this time. I would have to search my notes and files to see if I am misremembering. I do recall that there is a book on Pollard by Jack P. Maddox and it is possible that I am conflating the two.

    True story. Often I have found that people do not consider that newspapers of the era were often the organ of the political parties. However, if my perception of @Andersonh1 's work from the newspaper thread is true, I am confident in the ability to account for that bias.
     
  9. jackt62

    jackt62 Sergeant Major

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    I never thought to read Pollard's book. Don't know if it is worth the time and effort. However, understanding the "Lost Cause" is an important aspect of the Civil War's legacy so to that end I have read books edited by Gallagher on the subject ("Myth of the Lost Cause," "Leaders of the Lost Cause," and Gaines Foster's book "Ghosts of the Confederacy."
     
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  10. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 1st Lieutenant

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    I haven't, but I'll add it to my "to read" list, so thanks for the recommendation. I'm very much interested in reading the book everyone is commenting on first before reading their commentary.
     
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  11. Hawkins

    Hawkins Private

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    While Pollard might have coined the term "The Lost Cause," historians are not generally referring to his work when they are discussing the Lost Cause as they use the term to refer to a larger literary and intellectual movement that existed beyond Pollard. I think that is because Pollard's views change some between The Lost Cause, The Lost Cause Regained, and The Life of Jefferson Davis as Reconstruction unfolded. It also might have something to do with his death in 1872 before the publication of the Southern Historical Papers, which had a larger influence on the movement as a whole. Please do not take this as a discouragement towards your efforts, but heads up that you might find people talking about Early's or Rutherfords's influence more than Pollard's.
     
  12. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

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    Exactly. Pollard's work is not generally important for its content per se, so much as because it began the series of narratives and explanations that are now referred to by its title.
     
  13. johnsneed

    johnsneed Private

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    I have read parts, but not the whole work.

    John Sneed
     
  14. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    I read it a very long time ago. I think when I read it I did not really know much about The Lost Cause as a paradigm for looking at the war. I was mostly reading it to see how a Southern newspaperman would summarize the war in its immediate aftermath. One thing to keep in mind is that Pollard's book misses one key element of The Lost Cause narrative, written so soon after the end of the war (1866) it does not go deep into Reconstruction and, of course, misses out on Redemption altogether.

    Also, while Pollard was deeply committed to slavery and secession, he was a political opponent of Davis, and so the work lacks the hagiographic approach to Davis that later Lost Cause efforts would display.

    If I get a chance next year, I might try to re-read Pollard. As I recall the writing was what you would expect from a skilled, if very biased, newspaper writer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017 at 8:55 AM
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