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336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 illus., notes, bibl., index

Civil War America

ISBN  978-0-8078-5592-8
Published: August 2007

A Shattered Nation

The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868

By Anne Sarah Rubin

Awards & Distinctions

2006 Avery O. Craven Award, Organization of American Historians

Historians often assert that Confederate nationalism had its origins in pre-Civil War sectional conflict with the North, reached its apex at the start of the war, and then dropped off quickly after the end of hostilities. Anne Sarah Rubin argues instead that white Southerners did not actually begin to formulate a national identity until it became evident that the Confederacy was destined to fight a lengthy war against the Union. She also demonstrates that an attachment to a symbolic or sentimental Confederacy existed independent of the political Confederacy and was therefore able to persist well after the collapse of the Confederate state. White Southerners redefined symbols and figures of the failed state as emotional touchstones and political rallying points in the struggle to retain local (and racial) control, even as former Confederates took the loyalty oath and applied for pardons in droves.

Exploring the creation, maintenance, and transformation of Confederate identity during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Rubin sheds new light on the ways in which Confederates felt connected to their national creation and provides a provocative example of what happens when a nation disintegrates and leaves its people behind to forge a new identity.

About the Author

Anne Sarah Rubin is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is coauthor, with Edward Ayers, of the electronic project Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War: The Eve of War.


"A comprehensive discussion of the ideas and feelings of supporters of the Confederacy during the Civil War and Reconstruction."
--American Historical Review

"A sophisticated explication of the creation, manifestation, adaptation, and persistence of Confederate nationalism."
--The North Carolina Historical Review

"Rubin's study provides valuable contributions to understanding the creation of the Confederate identity."
--The Courier

"Offers a perceptive treatment of the complex nest of issues Confederates confronted as they faced the prospect of taking loyalty oaths to the Union, both during and after the war."
--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"A well-conceived book."
--Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Provides a compelling argument concerning the relationship between southern nationalism and the Confederate state. . . . Extensive and focused. . . . A valuable contribution to understanding the nature of Confederate identity. . . . Essential and instructive."
--Southern Historian

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