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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War by H.W. Crocker III
© 2013 James LaFond
2008, Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 370 pages
This is a book that needed to be written. The two primary sources used by the author are my two favorite Civil War books, The Civil War: A Narrative, by Shelby Foote, and A Battle from The Start by Brian Steel Wills. The subject of the later book, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest, is pictured prominently on the cover. Let me first discuss the tenor of the book, as an example of what is wrong with it, and then go on to discuss Forest and his treatment, as an example of what is right with it.
This is introductory level history, and the facts presented herein are checkable and correct. Mister Crocker has written a reactionary book: a reaction to the current American mores which equate the Confederacy with evil, with Nazi style fascism, and even vampires.
The scheme of the book is to provide biographies of remarkably moral Confederate leaders who disagreed with slavery and were essentially fighting to protect their home state evil-slave-driving warts and all. It then provides biographies of evil and or slave owning Union generals. These are good capsule biographies. The tone it sets is this, “How could a nation that produced such remarkable and humane leaders in war time as Wade Hampton and Robert E. Lee be evil? Likewise, how could a nation that produced wartime leaders like the macro-parasitic McClellan and the maniacally evil Sheridan be a sainted and unblemished font of freedom?
McClellan famously threatened West Virginia slaves with reprisals if they revolted against their Confederate masters. Sheridan was famous for such humane statements as, “The only good Indian I ever saw was dead.” And, “If owned hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in hell.”
The point is well made when Jews are brought into the equation, with the Confederate Secretary of State being Jewish and Union General Ulysses S. Grant actually instituting a ‘progrom’ against Tennessee Jewry. However, Mister Crocker finds no fault with slavery. This is a thinly veiled cloak of obfuscation, as only a handful of notably compassionate anti-slavery Confederate leaders are profiled in contrast to the crassest Union military leaders.
However, this point has been brought up to me by many history and war game buffs. Namely that since the Confederate fighting man was by consensus the best soldier this nation ever produced, how could slavery be wrong if it supported such sterling characters?
The answer is quite simple, that the best warriors in human history have been of two kinds: the aboriginal warrior [like the American Indian and Polynesian Maori] and the aristocratic warrior who lives a life of privilege atop a massive inequitable society of oppression, the produce of which frees him to dedicate his life to war fighting and the abstractions of honor and dignity; in other words, permitting him to live like the primitive warrior. The best fighting men in history: Spartans, Makedonians, Romans, Vikings, Mongols, Samurai, all lived off of the backs of slaves [or, like the Vikings, sold them], so that they could continue to live as the first warriors had, the warriors of prehistory, Achilles, Gilgamesh and the like.
In this light, The Politically Incorrect guide to the Civil War is shallowly incorrect where the humanity so often overlooked by historians of the privileged classes [with initials instead of first names and numbers after their last names] are concerned.
But don’t think H.W. went too far with Forest. Forest is now the most reviled Confederate figure in America, even though he was, in my opinion, the best warrior ever born on American soil. Forest takes a lot of heat for having ‘founded the KKK’. H.W., rather than state the truth that Forest did not found the KKK, implies that the KKK was not so bad. In fact, Forest—who had been invited to lead the KKK as a civic organization to protect against Northern abuses during Reconstruction—disbanded the organization once blacks became targets of its riders. He particularly disliked the stupid costumes.
The fact was Forest preferred blacks to Northerners, and regarded them as naturally honest and hard working. He even had cookouts with black leaders and once proposed that Americans buy African slaves from the African princes that held them, and then free them in the U.S. so that their honesty and industry—which he did think were racial rather than cultural traits—would benefit the nation as a whole.
This book is not meant to educate liberals, but to piss them off. It is not meant to educate conservatives, but to give them debate ammunition with which to piss off liberals. It could have been done so much better if only H.W. had followed the example of the famous Confederate warriors he mentioned [such as Confederate general Wade Hampton who led black troops against white terrorists after the war], who decided on bridging the divide of ideas instead of strengthening the wall.
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