More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation, describing how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief in a benevolent God. Throughout, the voices of soldiers and their families, of statesmen, generals, preachers, poets, surgeons, nurses, northerners and southerners come together to give us a vivid understanding of the Civil War's most fundamental and widely shared reality.
Social history looks at how everyday people, rather than famous political or military leaders, coped with and influenced historical events. Civil War social historian Drew Gilpin Faust, recently installed as president of Harvard University, has written an eye-opening, thoroughly researched, and highly original account of how the Civil War generation dealt with the daily, horrific realities of death.