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From the introduction:

"In 2012, the American Civil War sesquicentennial continued. We were prepared for the panels on secession, Sumter, and Shiloh, and of course the books in preparation for the 2013 salute to the Emancipation Proclamation. Perhaps the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer caught a few off guard, but it too had precedent: in the centennial, moviegoers watched Two Thousand Maniacs (1964), a horror-filled Confederate revival where Yankees were “gruesomely stained in gushing blood color.” In April 2012, though, an important anniversary passed nearly unnoticed: Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War turned fifty. Since 1962, scholars have grappled with this epic. Wilson put a question mark where, today, few believe there is a question—Was the Civil War a mistake?"


Author's post-print. Published version available at

Gac, Scott. Reflections: Was the Civil War a Mistake? Fifty Years of Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore.” Reviews in American History 41, no. 2 (June 2013): 361-375.