This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
Approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives between 1861 and 1865, roughly the same number as all those lost in America’s other wars from the Revolution through Korea combined. Two percent of the population died in uniform, a proportion that would equate to six million people today. How can someone living through such unprecedented carnage deal with a sense of loss that is so pervasive and so palpable? How does a society make sense of such violence? In her critically acclaimed book This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, historian Drew Gilpin Faust revisited the Civil War by exploring the empty spaces—between past and present, between those who perished and those who were left behind, between the realities of a society that has not seen two percent of its men slaughtered, and the one that has seen just that—left behind by the Civil War’s dead, and their absence’s impact on the America that grew out of Reconstruction.In this lecture, Ms. Faust will use her latest book as the basis for her remarks on the Civil War, historiography in general, and her experiences as she researched sources for her book in libraries including the Boston Athenæum.
Drew Gilpin Faust is president of Harvard University, where she also holds the Lincoln Professorship in History. Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2001 to 2007, she is the author of five previous books, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, which won the Francis Parkman and Avery Craven prizes.
To Reserve: There is no fee for this members-only event. Reservations are required but cannot be accepted until Wednesday, February 9. Please call the Athenæum’s events reservation line, (617) 720-7600.