Stephen Cushman: The Generals' Civil War

404 E. Main St. Charlottesville, VA 22902, null, null null


  • Presented By: New Dominion Bookshop
  • Dates: October 2, 2021
  • Location: New Dominion Bookshop
  • Time: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM


Join us as we celebrate the release of Stephen Cushman’s new book, The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today. This in-person event will be free and open to the public. We recommend arriving early for the best seating.

About the Book: In December 1885, under the watchful eye of Mark Twain, the publishing firm of Charles L. Webster and Company released the first volume of the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. With a second volume published in March 1886, Grant’s memoirs became a popular sensation. Seeking to capitalize on Grant’s success and interest in earlier reminiscences by Joseph E. Johnston, William T. Sherman, and Richard Taylor, other Civil War generals such as George B. McClellan and Philip H. Sheridan soon followed suit. Some hewed more closely to Grant’s model than others, and their points of similarity and divergence left readers increasingly fascinated with the history and meaning of the nation’s great conflict. The writings also dovetailed with a rising desire to see the full sweep of American history chronicled, as its citizens looked to the start of a new century. Professional historians engaged with the memoirs as an important foundation for this work.

In this insightful book, Stephen Cushman considers Civil War generals’ memoirs as both historical and literary works, revealing how they remain vital to understanding the interaction of memory, imagination, and the writing of American history. Cushman shows how market forces shaped the production of the memoirs and, therefore, memories of the war itself; how audiences have engaged with the works to create ideas of history that fit with time and circumstance; and what these texts tell us about current conflicts over the history and meanings of the Civil War.

About the Author: Stephen Cushman is the Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Among his many books are The Generals’ Civil War: What Their Memoirs Can Teach Us Today and Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War.