Announcing a 2017 ALA Midwinter Breakfast Presentation: ‘American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War’


American Tragedy.JPG

During the upcoming American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Readex will host a special Sunday breakfast presentation. Prof. David Goldfield, an exciting speaker and acclaimed authority on the American South, will present “American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War.”

About the Presentation

Goldfield 3.jpgFor the past 50 years historians have achieved a consensus on the interpretative narrative of the American Civil War: that slavery was the primary cause of the conflict, and that the war—while bloody—produced two great results: the abolition of slavery and the salvation of the Union. Beyond the war itself, the same narrative asserts that Reconstruction was a noble but failed attempt to bind up the Union and provide the basic rights of citizenship for the freed slaves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this account, but it is woefully incomplete and, therefore, misleading.

Goldfield 1 blog.jpgIn this engaging talk, Prof. Goldfield draws on original research to demonstrate that the American Civil War was the product of a breakdown in the nation’s political process.  To understand how and why this occurred, he delves beyond traditional sources to reveal the profound impact of often-overlooked factors such as immigration and religion. These unconventional sources include sermons of leading ministers, accounts of religious conflicts, personal papers, political cartoons, novels and short stories, and the musings of period scientists.

How these factors affected the political process, the war itself, and its aftermath form the core of an intriguing story that too often goes untold. We learn that the common portrayal of the North as the Republic of Virtue and the South as the Evil Empire betrays a reality that is considerably more layered, complicated and surprising.

About the Presenter

Goldfield.JPGDavid Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is the author or editor of 16 books including two, Cotton Fields and Skyscrapers (1982) and Black, White, and Southern (1991), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History. His most recently pubished books are America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (2011) and Still Fighting the Civil War (2013). He is Past President of the Southern Historical Association (2012-2013).


“Your lecture was amazing, and certainly kept the room buzzing…” —Anne Tubaugh, North Carolina Humanities Council

“Is a preacher perched in your family tree? You’ve set the bar extremely high for the speakers that will follow you…” —Annette Windhorn, Organization of American Historians

When and Where

This special breakfast event will be held on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, from 8:00 am to 10:00 am in International Ballroom D, CNN North Tower M2, at the Omni Atlanta Hotel, connected to the Georgia Congress World Center. To request a seat, please email Erin Luckett before Friday, Dec. 30, 2016.


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