Episode #1214

The Civil War: Then and Now

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Friday, April 08, 2011

The flag from Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. The flag from Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. (Department of Interior, National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection, Harpers Ferry Center)

The Civil War began 150 years ago this week, when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter. The four years of bitter conflict that followed still echo in America today. “At every point in the history of this country, we feel like we're on the verge of Civil War,” historian Adam Goodheart tells Kurt Andersen. America’s leading artists pioneered new ways of depicting battle. And for some, the battles still haven’t ended: Civil War culture thrives among the re-enactors, where a gun and a uniform are a ticket to a time machine.

Adam Goodheart on 1861

One out of every 25 American men died during the Civil War, and sometimes it seems the country is still fighting its battles. Kurt talks with Adam Goodheart, a historian and journalist, about how the mapmaker’s divide between red states and blue echoes the gray and blue... 

Bonus Track: The War Between the Beards

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Weekend Warriors: Re-enacting the Civil War

The Siege at Bridgeport, a strategic site in Alabama, took place in 1862 — and again this year. Civil War re-enactors spend time and money reliving battles that were decided 150 years ago. They’ll tell you that if you just give it one weekend, you’ll be hooked, too. But one Confederate officer...

Slideshow: Siege at Bridgeport, 2011

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Charleston Remembers the War

We know that the North and South remember the Civil War differently. But there aren't just two versions of the war: there’s practically a different version for every person doing the remembering. Studio 360’s Kerrie Hillman traveled to where the shooting started — Charleston, South Carolina — to see...

Slideshow: Charleston and the Civil War

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More from Adam Goodheart

When the first shells exploded over Charleston’s Fort Sumter on the night of April 12, 1861, the news reached New York in a matter of hours. Journalist and historian Adam Goodheart describes the reaction of one New Yorker, a poet named Walt Whitman. Goodheart’s new book on the ...


Visualizing the Civil War

Many of the images we know of the Civil War come from the photos of Mathew Brady. Brady and his assistants recorded the rigidly posed generals and the battlefields scattered with bodies. But very few people at the time actually saw Brady's pictures – and those who did were horrified. Illustrators like...

Slideshow: Mathew Brady and Winslow Homer

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A More Perfect Union

Artist-programmer R. Luke Dubois has his own map of the U.S., and it’s not colored with red states and blue. Dubois doesn’t need the polls; he gathered his data from 19 million dating profiles. Politics, schmolitics – he wants to know what we really think about. Who’s shy, who’s bored...

Slideshow: Mapping the Country’s Singles

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Comments [4]

L Devine from Seattle

I only thought one thing when you played the clips of those "threatening" to leave the union - - PLEASE GO. These right wing tax naysayers pay far less in taxes than they recoup - mainly from the creative and productive toil of the big cities full of the liberals they love to deride . Let them create their own tax free, gun-filled confederacy and we'll keep our "socialist" society -- and our tax dollars.

Apr. 22 2011 07:22 PM
Glenn Shrom from Pennsylvania

I liked the story on Matthew Brady when I heard it. A radio ad for the program, however, set it up as though Matthew Brady had put the guns in the hands of the soldiers in the contrived photograph. The program explains that it was someone who worked with Brady, not Brady himself, so the ad was a bit misleading, and not every listener gets to hear the whole program.

Apr. 12 2011 10:06 PM
Strath from http://pacific-standard.blogspot.com

Fascinating program all around. One thing I wanted to add: Kurt mentions that with Matthew Brady it was as if Avedon had gone to cover Vietnam – and (maybe everyone knows this already) Avedon actually did go to Vietnam as a photojournalist.

Apr. 11 2011 11:21 PM
Gary Salkind from Philadelphia

Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner always gets a bad rap for arranging things (bodies, props) in his photos. That is anachronistic thinking. After the development of high-speed film and modern photojournalism, we got the idea that "pictures don't lie" and it is wrong to stage a photograph. In Gardner's time, photography was just developing as an art, and looked back to painting - including the idea of composition. In the same segment, Winslow Homer was praised for how he composed his Civil War sketches. If you think of Gardner as trying to convey the larger truth of what a battlefield is like (like Homer), rather than documenting the exact details as he found them, I believe you will have a greater appreciation of what Gardner was trying to do.

Apr. 09 2011 08:06 AM

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