This is one of those books you hear so much about. Usually when I hear that I am left disappointed. Sure there are a few exceptions: Confederacy of Dunces, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Into the Wild and a few others. This one left me with mixed feelings at best.
OK, Tony Horowitz has a great repuation and has won a Pulitzer Prize. His writing is easy and not boring. My problem is there just appears to have been an ax to grind against the South and to try and show it still kind of a backwards, redneck, anti black area. Sure parts of the south are that way but let's not forget that much of the north is the exact same way. Racism is alive and well in all parts of the world not just the old Confederate states. Unfortunately most of the world can not get past skin color or religion and just accept people as people.
Horowitz hooks up with a reenactment troop and leader named Rob Hodge whose whole goal in life is to be hardcore and not be a farb. To be hardcore is to be completely authentic in dress, action, movement, and eating. If you aren't hardcore you are probably a farb. We also learn that you can be a farb, act farbishly, and more. Reenactment is something I've never quite gotten so this does nothing to change my view of this activity. Basically though these people come of as harmless, a bit odd but harmless.
In this book we get to meet whites who are just plain racist, we meet african americans who don't feel the war was about slavery, we meet young african americans who voice racist views toward whites that would be decried if the other way, we get to go on a Civil Wargasm which is a trip to as many Civil War sites as possible in a small amount of time, we see Civil War decendants, we find out that Stone Mountain has been turned into some kind of theme park with laser light shows flashing across General Lee, and much more.
Then we get asked the big question: Is there a way to politically correctly remember the Confederacy? I would ask why would we try to make such politically correct. We all know slavery was wrong however none of us had anything to do with it. We can't correct the wrongs of some in the past but we can prevent them from happening again. Tell the FACTS as they are without trying to spare people who are looking to be offended anyhow. This goes for anything not just the Civil war.
While this book is easy to read instead of calling it a travel book I would more say it is a sociological essay to show that the Civil War is still going on in the minds of many Southerners. While that may be true we should not paint all people with that bruch.