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African American Faces of the Civil War

Hardback
, 384 pages

77 halftones

ISBN:
9781421406251
August 2012
Subject:
History
$29.95

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African American Faces of the Civil War

An Album

A renowned collector of Civil War photographs and a prodigious researcher, Ronald S. Coddington combines compelling archival images with biographical stories that reveal the human side of the war. This third volume in his series on Civil War soldiers contains previously unpublished photographs of African American Civil War participants—many of whom fought to secure their freedom.

During the Civil War, 200,000 African American men enlisted in the Union army or navy. Some of them were free men and some escaped from slavery; others were released by sympathetic owners to serve the war effort. African American Faces of the Civil War tells the story of the Civil War through the images of men of color who served in roles that ranged from servants and laborers to enlisted men and junior officers.

Coddington discovers these portraits— cartes de visite, ambrotypes, and tintypes—in museums, archives, and private collections. He has pieced together each individual’s life and fate based upon personal documents, military records, and pension files. These stories tell of ordinary men who became fighters, of the prejudice they faced, and of the challenges they endured. African American Faces of the Civil War makes an important contribution to a comparatively understudied aspect of the war and provides a fascinating look into lives that helped shape America.

Ronald S. Coddington is assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Disunion series and writes a monthly column for The Civil War News. He is the author of Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War, both published by Johns Hopkins.

"Coddington's use of African American-owned newspapers and pension records is groundbreaking. It does nothing to diminish the depth and precision of Coddington's research to say that each compelling vignette prompts the reader to hurriedly flip to the next one. Starred Review"

"An engaging look at a neglected part of the history of the American Civil War."

" African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album serves us well to remind us of those who came before and honor them."

"With the plethora of Civil War books that focus on battles, regiments, and the famous, this volume's subject matter and format are a welcome counterpoint."

"A stunning album of 77 portrait photographs–cartes de visite, ambrotypes and tintypes... African American Faces of the Civil War provides a unique visual record, quite literally documenting the faces of war at a transitional moment in U.S. history. Lincoln’s black warriors helped to overthrow slavery and to restore the Union. Their descendants spent the next century fighting new battles for true equality."

"Coddington's thoughtfully crafted and cogently written study, replete with an insightful foreword by J. Matthew Gallman on the African-American experience, will appeal to readers interested in the efforts of African Americans and the war's larger military, social and global consequences."

"Coddington highlights the bravery of African American soldiers at a time when many considered them to be cowards, and shows the Civil War from the perspective of African Americans fighting for freedom, dignity, respect, and equality."

"A fascinating work that captures the soldiers at a moment when they proudly served a country that was only just then beginning to reassess their citizenship rights. Because they risked everything to fight for emancipation and the Union, the Civil War’s African-American soldiers deserve to never be forgotten. Coddington’s work will help to ensure that that no one will ever need to be reminded that 'there were men of color who... fought.'"

"The sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War era will be marked by numerous publications of works. Few book will be as fascinating and informative as African American Faces of the Civil War... This third book on soldiers in the Civil War, frican American Faces of the Civil War, is a well-documented and a valuable work, It is an outstanding contribution to the scholarship on the Civil War and African American History in general."

"There are many books of Civil War letters, and photographs are common. But this book is a first: a collection of identified portraits accompanied by brief narratives of the subjects' lives."

" African American Faces of the Civil War, like the photographs it presents, captures the moment when black men in America transitioned from slaves to soldiers and the Civil War became about more than merely preserving the Union. Unlike any single photograph, however, Coddington's book depicts this moment from a diverse variety of perspectives"

"Coddington exposes the good and the bad... The book is a must-read for all Civil War buffs and contains important historical data to complete a full circumference of Civil War history."

"All those who are fascinated by Civil war photography or black history in general will find this volume to be a most enjoyable read. The book helps us to remember that during the Civil War a significant number of black men were willing to fight for their freedom or to help secure freedom for their fellow African Americans."

"In developing parallels between the control of one's image in narratives and the use of the photograph as biography, Coddington makes a compelling argument for the reader to rethink the place of photography in telling history. His use of photographs as visual text allows the reader to reimagine history through the photographer's leans. This book maps new methodologies for researching and writing about photographs and plumbs the hidden history of the Civil War narrative."

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