Reviewed by Monique Prince, Undergraduate Services Librarian
If you like nonfiction that reads like fiction, or if you think you don't like nonfiction at all, try Confederates in the Attic by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Horwitz. He wrote this book shortly after settling in Virginia following several years as a journalist overseas. Living in the South rekindled a childhood fascination with the Civil War and he set out on a quest to discover what it is about that war in particular that continues to endure in the present-day, particularly among Southerners. He decided to spend a year traveling throughout the South, where virtually all Civil War action took place. Horwitz visits cities such as Charleston, South Carolina and Vicksburg, Mississippi, as well as Civil War battlefields, including Shiloh and Antietam. Of particular interest to Richmonders is the time Horwitz spent in the capital of the Confederacy and the surrounding battlefields and historic sites. Of Richmond, Horwitz writes: "The city seemed somehow more Southern than I'd expected. There was a geniality and leisure in the way people spoke and smiled at each other that resonated much more of Memphis or Charleston, a day's drive away, than of Virginia cities just a short distance north." He visited Hollywood Cemetery and Monument Avenue, and attended the debate about placing the Arthur Ashe statue at one end. While this book is written with wit and humor, it also addresses serious issues of racism, regional differences, perception, and ways people give meaning to historical events; while in Richmond, Horwitz poses a question he'd been considering throughout his trip: whether or not there is "such a thing as politically correct remembrance of the Confederacy? Or was any attempt to honor the Cause inevitably tainted by what Southerners once delicately referred to as their 'peculiar institution'?"