The Civil War


A Discussion Project series

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • March by Geraldine Brooks

Beginning with the best-selling novel that was said to be one of the causes of the conflict, this series of five novels brings the drama of the Civil War and its aftermath to life. It also reveals, through the insights of major authors, what the Civil War has meant to Americans over a span of 140 years.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is still a page-turner, captivating modern readers with its graphic indictment of slavery, its vivid characteristics, and its insight into the ambiguities in both Southern and Northern attitudes towards race. This classic work reflects the values of its own era and is also a fascinating as an enduring yet changeable force in our popular culture.

In The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane takes us into battle with a young Northern soldier. Considered to be the first modern war novel, this work depicts in words the horrors conveyed by the battlefield photographs in Ken Burns’s TV series “The Civil War,” reflecting a profound disillusionment with the traditions of military heroism.

Absalom, Absalom! is a Southern writer’s examination of one family’s experience before, during, and after the Civil War. Tracing the story of a poor white man’s rise to social prominence, Faulkner depicts the stresses between classes, races, genders, and generations, both in Antebellum Virginia and in the upheavals resulting from the War.

Toni Morrison’s Beloved is the story of a woman’s endurance, both in slavery and in the troubled freedom of the black community in post-War Cincinnati. In this emotionally powerful work Morrison explores the deepest complexities of human cruelty and dignity, freedom and bondage, hatred and reconciliation.