Gone with the Glory: The History of the Civil War in Cinema

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9780742545250: Gone with the Glory: The History of the Civil War in Cinema
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From Birth of a Nation to Cold Mountain, hundreds of directors, actors, and screenwriters have used the Civil War to create compelling cinema. However, each generation of moviemakers has resolved the tug of war between entertainment value and historical accuracy differently. Historian Brian Steel Wills takes readers on a journey through the portrayal of the war in film, exploring what Hollywood got right and wrong, how the films influenced each other, and, ultimately, how the movies reflect America's changing understandings of the conflict and of the nation.

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About the Author:

Brian Steel Wills is director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University. He is the author of The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest, The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia, and No Ordinary College: A History of the University of Virginia at Wise.

Review:

Hollywood has had a long and complex relationship with the American Civil War. From The Birth of a Nation through Glory and Cold Mountain, scores of Civil War-related films have revealed at least as much about the eras in which they were made as about the events and characters they depicted. Brian Wills's excellent treatment, which captures the ebb and flow of cinematic themes and interpretations over the past 90 years, will prove invaluable in helping readers choose which films to watch. (Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War and Lee and His Generals in War and Memory)

Films are not history, though they often make history. Cinema, like literature, has always been used to demonstrate the attitudes of the present toward the past, and Brian Wills's Gone With the Glory offers a penetrating insight into how 20th century filmmakers have chosen to see and present the Civil War to Americans across five generations. If there were an Academy Award for film history, Brian Wills would soon be polishing a little golden statuette. (William C. Davis, professor of history, Virginia Tech)

Brian Wills has approached the American fascination with film entertainment by analyzing the significance of Civil War movies, both old and new. From interpreting historical accuracy to dissecting emotional impact, Wills has probed our obsession with the movies that have shaped our essential views about the past. Here is fine entertainment in itself, and also the educational value this superb author intrinsically seeks. (Wiley Sword, author of Southern Invincibility: A History of the Confederate Heart)

Brian Steel Wills, who knows his movies as well as he knows his history—and loves both—steers us, with his usual style and expertise, through Civil War cinema, old and new—from Birth of a Nation to Gone with the Wind to Gods and Generals. In this delightful change-of-pace book, he expertly, for our benefit, connects what really happened with what Hollywood likes to think could have happened in some of the most stirring moments in Civil War history. (John C. Waugh, author of The Class of 1846)

Brian Steel Wills's Gone with the Glory is a perceptive and engrossing examination of Hollywood's treatment of America's greatest saga on the silver screen. From Birth of a Nation to Gods and Generals, Hollywood has produced scores of films on the epic struggle between North and South. A gifted historian and writer, Wills has given us the finest book on a fascinating subject. (Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Sword of Lincoln)

This book is a highly enjoyable read. Brian Wills has a knack with a pen (or keyboard). His knowledge of Civil War film is amazing. If the reader is interested in Civil War films, I highly recommend this volume. (Blake A. Magner Civil War News)

Generally, books about Hollywood's treatment of history have been written for either academicians or film buffs, but seldom both. Wills has bridged the gap with his latest work. . . . For anyone interested in starting their own Civil War film library, this book is a must-own. (Tom Elmore Blue and Gray Magazine)

A great read. (Post Library)

This book is a must-read for those with a penchant for Civil War movies and will be invaluable to instructors wishing to screen films in class. But beware, after reading this book you will likely find yourself heading to your local video store in search of some of these titles—and you will no doubt watch with Wills's commentary running through your head.

(Civil War History)

Brian S. Wills is a fine scholar and writer. . . . Film and Civil War buffs will enjoy this book as will baby boomers.

(America's Civil War)

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