The Fall of the House of Dixie
The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South
Levine, Bruce C.
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Date Written: 01/04/2014
Year Published: 2014
Pages: 480 pp Price: $17 (pbk.) ISBN: 9780812978728
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX20997
History of the lasting impact of the Civil War on America. Originally undertaken to preserve the status quo, it turned into a second American Revolution that upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South.
In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first.
In 1860 the American South was a vast, wealthy, imposing region where a small minority had amassed great political power and enormous fortunes through a system of forced labor. The South's large population of slaveless whites almost universally supported the basic interests of plantation owners, despite the huge wealth gap that separated them. By the end of 1865 these structures of wealth and power had been shattered. Millions of black people had gained their freedom, many poorer whites had ceased following their wealthy neighbors, and plantation owners were brought to their knees, losing not only their slaves but their political power, their worldview, their very way of life. This sea change was felt nationwide, as the balance of power in Congress, the judiciary, and the presidency shifted dramatically and lastingly toward the North, and the country embarked on a course toward equal rights.
Levine captures the many-sided human drama of this story using a huge trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, and more. In The Fall of the House of Dixie, the true stakes of the Civil War become clearer than ever before, as slaves battle for their freedom in the face of brutal reprisals; Abraham Lincoln and his party turn what began as a limited war for the Union into a crusade against slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; poor southern whites grow increasingly disillusioned with fighting what they have come to see as the plantation owners' war; and the slave owners grow ever more desperate as their beloved social order is destroyed, not just by the Union Army, but also from within. When the smoke clears, not only Dixie but all of American society is changed forever.
Brilliantly argued and engrossing, The Fall of the House of Dixie is a sweeping account of the destruction of the old South during the Civil War, offering a fresh perspective on the most colossal struggle in our history and the new world it brought into being.
Table of Contents:
The house of Dixie --
Securing the mansion : the slaveholder revolt and its origins --
Early portents : the first phases of war --
"Recognizing the "logic of events" : Union war policy evolves, 1861-1863 --
"The clouds are dark over us" : the convulsions of 1863 --
Bound for "a land they knew not" : after slavery, what? --
Cracks in the walls widen --
A ray of light shines briefly through the rafters --
Feeling the timbers shudder --
And the walls gave way : Richmond, Appomattox, and after --
Conclusion : "We should rejoice".