The Reel Civil War by Bruce Chadwick
Mythmaking in American Film

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During the late nineteenth century, magazines, newspapers, novelists, and even historians presented a revised version of the Civil War that, intending to reconcile the former foes, downplayed the issues of slavery and racial injustice, and often promoted and reinforced the worst racial stereotypes. The Reel Civil War tells the history of how these misrepresentations of history made their way into movies.

More than 800 films have been made about the Civil War. Citing such classics as Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind as well as many other films, Bruce Chadwick shows how most of them have, until recently, projected an image of gallant soldiers, beautiful belles, sprawling plantations, and docile or dangerous slaves. He demonstrates how the movies aided and abetted racism and an inaccurate view of American history, providing a revealing and important account of the power of cinema to shape our understanding of historical truth.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Bruce Chadwick

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Bruce Chadwick, Ph.D., lectures in American history at Rutgers University while also teaching writing at New Jersey City University. He is a former journalist and the author of four other historical books: Brother against Brother: The Lost Civil War Diaries of Lt. Edmund Halsey, Two American Presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis 1861-1865, Traveling the Underground Railroad and The Reel Civil War: Mythmaking in American Film. He lives in New Jersey.
Published August 15, 2009 by Vintage. 384 pages
Genres: History, Humor & Entertainment, War. Non-fiction

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The ripe topic of how filmmakers mythologized the Civil War is manhandled into pedantic submission in this well-organized but dreary film history.

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Publishers Weekly

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From the first of the silent movies, Chadwick (The Two American Presidents) asserts, the Civil War has been presented as a national tragedy, redeemed only by the gallantry of the combatants.

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