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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

    6 vote(s)
    22.2%
  2. No, I have not read the book

    21 vote(s)
    77.8%
  1. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Captain

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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.
     
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  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.
     
  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 Captain

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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
  15. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues 2nd Lieutenant

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    Ive had it for years, but have yet to really delve into it.. admittedly, its a little daunting when it comes to length! Once I can get my books out of storage, I may attempt to attack it.
     
  16. civilken

    civilken 1st Lieutenant

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    I have never read it wood you recommended it'as a factual book or more of the story thank you.
     
  17. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    When historians refer to the Lost Cause, they are not referring to the exact content of Pollard's book. Rather, they are referring to a set of narratives and interpretations which were made after the war and continued to be made into the 20th century.

    - Alan
     
  18. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

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    I think the book has value. It just needs to be taken for what it is, that is a personal view of a writer in Richmond during the war. I think the book offers a good oppertunity for us to read what was presented to the civilian population during the war. It really brings the truth of just how much of the real truth was presented.
    I find what I've read of it to be very interesting to read what was thought true verses the real truth. I do not see Pollard as a bad writer per say, more toward a writer that wanted to bring hope to those that read what he was reporting.
    Its been that way even up to today. The bottom line is do we even believe the papers we read today?
    Those that wish to not choose to read the book, I think is missing a good representation of what was being wrote and told to them that relied upon news from the front. True,untrue,fact or fiction, it's worth reading.
     
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  19. shermans_march

    shermans_march First Sergeant

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    This is one that I have not read it. It might be worth it to get an idea of what the South thought they were fighting for. There are, however more recent books that are much more even handed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  20. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

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    I think the reason to read it is for the bias writings. Pollard wasn't writing untruths knowingly, he was writing what was being reported from the field. I find it rather informative to get some kind of understanding of what was being told to the people back home.
    I remember as a young child watching Walter Cronkite on the news on the Vietnam War. He would report the killed and wounded report. The report would be like 23 Americans killed and wounded. North Vietnam suffered 3,500 killed and wounded. I thought to myself, there is no way we could lose this war.
    History has always been bias no matter who was writing it. This book is just one of those type books.
    If you take this book in that perspective you will find some interesting facts of just how people were thinking that the war was going well.
     
  21. Patrick H

    Patrick H Major

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    I've not read it, but this seems to be a very interesting and thoughtful analysis. My friend @Boonslick has an original copy which I've seen. It's in overall good condition but the spine seems fragile and I wouldn't risk spending much time with the book open. I'm sure there are later copies available.
     

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