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Review Of This Republic Of Suffering

Good Essays
9764
Mr. Jeter
H1301
2 December 2014
Review of This Republic of Suffering: Death and The American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust (Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2008, xiv + 271 pp.)

Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and The American Civil War tackles a subject that is not widely written about: the ways of death of the American Civil War generation. She demonstrates how the unprecedented carnage, both military and civilian, caused by the Civil War forever changed American assumptions of death and dying, and how the nation and its people struggled to come to terms with death on an unimaginable scale. The war created a veritable “republic of suffering” and Faust vividly portrays the United States’ ordeal, transformation, and
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The public’s displays of mourning gave rise to new conventions or modifications of existing manners; in the blockaded South resourcefulness grew out of necessity as Southern widows could not import the latest European elegances. The most important transformation Faust describes here is of the new roles taken on by the survivors: as widows, orphans, and communities, even a nation of mourners.
The war took a toll on the beliefs of soldiers and their families as the carnage destroyed beyond recognition or even annihilated bodies. In Believing and Doubting Faust explores quintessential questions revolving round religion and humanity that lingered in the minds of Americans as they wrestled with the consequences of that destruction cause by the war. People’s beliefs may have been “powerfully challenged,” but they also became “fervently reaffirmed” as the war progressed (172). For many survivors and victims alike, death became redefined as “eternal life” (177), and heaven into an “eternal family reunion” (180). In this grim conflict a soldier’s death became to many “the vehicle of salvation” to achieve “God’s design of
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