In the current issue of America’s Civil War magazine, I gave a rating of one-half can (not one full can, as has been reported) to H. W. Crocker III’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War. At least one blogger didn’t like the review (thanks for taking the time to prove my point about the EP thing. By the way, the claim that the EP did not free a single slave is repeated on page 39, and in fact is not refuted anywhere in the book’s text so far as I could see.)
My Six-Pack reviews are brief, informational reviews, 100-150 words for each book. They are meant to give the reader an idea of whether or not the book in question is one they might be interested in reading. The folks at the magazine asked me to provide some indication of whether or not I think the book is worth my time (the actual graphics were their idea). At the same time, I try to give enough info to let the reader know if, regardless of my rating, the book is worth their time. If any one of the six reviews in this column did that, it was the PIG book. Whatever flavor tea you prefer, you should be able to tell from the review whether you want this book in your cup.
Book covers and blurbs are meant to attract readers, as well as to give them an idea of what they can expect to find between them. The bullets on the front cover of this book do a fantastic job in both cases – I found them consistent with the content:
You think you know about the Civil War, but did you know:
- That secession was legal
- That the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave
- That the South had the moral high ground in the war (and the editorial support of the Vatican’s own newspaper)
- That Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis expected slavery to fade away naturally
- That if the South had won, we might be able to enjoy holidays in the sunny Southern state of Cuba
What’s truly wonderful though are the praise quotes on the back cover (I don’t know who any of these people are, but my favorite is the one from Hays - I’m not sure how the fairly neutral one at the end snuck in):
You can’t understand America until you understand the War of Northern Aggression, and Mr. Crocker tells the story in such a delightful, politically incorrect way that you can’t wait to get to the end of his book to see whether Marse Robert actually pulls out a stunning upset. Great Scholarship, great story-telling, and great fun.
—Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of the Washington Times and political columnist
In short order, Harry Crocker has lifted the modern veil of misinformation surrounding the major actors in the War. In the process, he has rescued the character of Robert E. Lee and shown Union heroes such as Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln to be more human, complex, and in some cases loathsome than contemporary history texts suggest. The South becomes more admirable and the North more contemptible. Here is the war, warts and all, for everyone to see.
—Brion McClanahan, Ph.D. in American History, University of South Carolina
The only way this idiosyncratic take on the wa-wuh could be any better is if we’d won. Even Harry Crocker couldn’t do that, but he has written a witty book full of history and insight. If I’d ever gotten around to joining the United Daughters of the Confederacy, I bet my chapter would thank him. Yankees will enjoy it too.
—Charlotte Hays, Southern gossip columnist and co-author (among other books) of Being Dead is No Excuse, The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral
I had supposed it wasn’t possible these days to talk reasonably, as well as informatively, about our great national cataclysm, the Civil War. H. W. Crocker III brings off that extraordinary feat with style, verve, and wit. Give that gentleman a medal for gallantry and public service.
—William Murchison, nationally syndicated columnist
OK, well there you have it. I stand by my informational review. The book isn’t necessarily chock full of misinformation. But it has an agenda, for sure, and a slant, for sure. It is bent on increasing the prestige of the Confederacy and its supporters, and on tearing down the Union cause and its proponents. But it’s not like the author was acting surreptitiously – he is quite up front about it. Such an agenda requires selectivity and nuance.
Bottom line – if this review pissed you off, buy this book. It’s right up your alley. I also recommend to you anything by James & Walter Kennedy or Thomas DiLorenzo. And of course the original Confederate Catechism.