Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina (Paperback)
  • Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina (Paperback)
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Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina (Paperback)

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£42.50
Paperback 312 Pages / Published: 30/03/2014
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During the Civil War era, black and white North Carolinians were forced to fundamentally reinterpret the morality of suicide, divorce, and debt as these experiences became pressing issues throughout the region and nation. In Moments of Despair, David Silkenat explores these shifting sentiments.

Antebellum white North Carolinians stigmatized suicide, divorce, and debt, but the Civil War undermined these entrenched attitudes, forcing a reinterpretation of these issues in a new social, cultural, and economic context in which they were increasingly untethered from social expectations. Black North Carolinians, for their part, used emancipation to lay the groundwork for new bonds of community and their own interpretation of social frameworks. Silkenat argues that North Carolinians' attitudes differed from those of people outside the South in two respects. First, attitudes toward these cultural practices changed more abruptly and rapidly in the South than in the rest of America, and second, the practices were interpreted through a prism of race. Drawing upon a robust and diverse body of sources, including insane asylum records, divorce petitions, bankruptcy filings, diaries, and personal correspondence, this innovative study describes a society turned upside down as a consequence of a devastating war.

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9781469615325
Number of pages: 312
Weight: 458 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 21 mm
Edition: New edition


MEDIA REVIEWS
It is not often I find a social history that is fun to read, one that grabs my attention and holds it the way a good battle history can. This book manages to do that while being very informative and giving the reader an understanding of these issues in North Carolina.--TOCWOC: A Civil War Blog


Silkenat succeeds in challenging many of our assumptions about nineteenth-century North Carolina.--Journal of American Studies


A highly polished, highly original study that deserves the widest possible readership.--Journal of Southern History


To have a better rounded education on our American Civil War; you should consider adding this very interesting book to your library." --Lone Star Book Review


An interesting new perspective on an incontrovertible old truth.--American Historical Review


Silkenat's discussion of suicide has a made a major intervention into the scholarship of southern violence.--Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians


This excellent book is a social history of the changing attitudes toward Suicide, Divorce, and Debt. . . . It is a fun and informative read.--TOCWOC--A Civil War Blog


A valuable contribution to our understanding of how the American Civil War affected the lives of ordinary people.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History


Silkenat clearly illustrates the social, cultural, and economical upheaval left in the war's wake.--Our State


Silkenat argues that the Civil War fundamentally changed southern culture for both black and white North Carolinians. Using suicide, debt, and divorce as tools of measurement, he traces these changes and the significant impact they had on society.--Southern Historian


Writing a book on such depressing topics that reads as easily and enjoyably as this one is a tribute to both Silkenat's scholarship and his abilities as a writer.--The South Carolina Historical Magazine


[A] fast paced, well written book. . . integrat[ing] social and cultural history in an always intriguing, frequently brilliant, analysis.--Journal of Social History


Silkenat's work deserves serious consideration for its broad, largely convincing claims and its deep archival base. This is an interesting, well-researched study that should confirm the importance of the Civil War in broadly transforming Southern society.--The Historian

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