Heat and decomposition merely made the task that much worse. It wasn’t unusual for families to wander around battlefields after the shooting stopped, to look for the bodies of their parents and children, to take them back home for burial. | Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. This Republic of Suffering Book Review (2020) – Death and the American Civil War June 1, 2020 There is a whole plethora of literature on the American Civil War, but Drew Gilpin Faust manages to bring something new to its study: and that is the subject of death, and the dying, and everything associated with it. If Brady “has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it,” wrote the New York Times. $29.95 Hardcover $14.99 Kindle. Maris A. Vinovskis concludes that about 6 percent of northern white males between ages thirteen and forty-five died in the war, whereas 18 percent of white men of similar age in the South perished. There is a whole plethora of literature on the American Civil War, but Drew Gilpin Faust manages to bring something new to its study: and that is the subject of death, and the dying, and everything associated with it. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Timothy Patrick McCarthy. Faust argues in This Republic of Suffering that the unimaginable death toll in the Civil War forced American society to contend with death in ways they had never dreamed of. Trouble signing in? This article was originally published on Videri.org and is republished here with their permission. This is a wise, informed, troubling book. Categories: The presence and fear of death touched Civil War Americans’ most fundamental sense of who they were, for in its threat of termination and transformation, death inevitably inspired self-scrutiny and self-definition. The death toll from the war was 620,000, from both sides of Union and Confederacy. Faust notes, “In the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States embarked on a new relationship with death, entering into a civil war that proved bloodier than any other conflict in American history…”(xi). There were no regular burial details or any graves registration units. HISTORY, by Civil War casualty and mortality statistics are problematic overall, and the incompleteness of Confederate records makes them especially unreliable. But Faust studies more than the statistics, and looks into the political, spiritual, intellectual and material effects of those deaths and of the consequences of the suffering from the war as a whole. The efforts focused exclusively on Union soldiers. Gary Gallagher believes Vinovskis’s overall death rate for the South is too low; he estimates that closer to one in four rather than one in five white southern men of military age died in the conflict.