Non-Book Review: To Live And Die In Dixie

To Live And Die In Dixie: Native Northerners Who Fought For The Confederacy, by David Ross Zimring

As a native-born Northerner, and proud Yankee, who was raised in the South without ever feeling accepted or a part of Southern culture, this subject is of considerable interest to me. This book has about 350 pages of closely argued text, with a lot of footnotes and references (the footnotes are over 100 additional pages) and from what I have seen so far as I have flipped through the book, which I will be reviewing for the Michigan War Studies Review (which means it will have a book review of between 1500 and 2500, far longer than my usual review on on this blog), it appears as if the author first describes the economic pressures and a desire for a fresh start and opportunity that led native-born Northerners to move South, and then divides Northerners into two groups, one of them being adoptive Southerners who appreciated life in the South but did not rise up in arms against the Union, and the other being Northern Confederates, who fully adopted the nationalism of the Confederacy and fought against the Union. From what I could see, at least, so far, many of these Northern Confederates were judged by their contemporaries as being full Southerners, their origin forgotten because of their obvious and conspicuous loyalty to the Confederacy.

For me, the question of how a person assimilates, or fails to assimilate, into a culture and ceases to be an outsider is a question of more than academic importance. It is, indeed, one of the essential questions of my life. I was born in Appalachian Pennsylvania, grew up in Central Florida, went to college first in Southern California, then lived in Ohio for several months, returned to Florida, spent over a year in Thailand, and have now lived almost three years in the Pacific Northwest, in the Willamette valley. In all of these places I have been an outsider–all of these places had aspects of their history I appreciated and studied deeply, all of them have aspects of their culture I found congenial to my own nature, but in all of them I felt like an outsider, not someone who was truly at home. What was it that made people feel at home–was it an ability to be assimilated that allowed such people to be welcomed, was it the honor and respect that such people received from their new neighbors that encouraged them to assimilate more readily, or was it some combination of the two in a sort of Virginia reel, by which each party acted in ways that were mirrored by a positive response on the other, leading the strangers from the North to be accepted by their new neighbors in the South, to the point where their original origin was forgotten or considered unimportant because they had so completely assimilated? It is possible this book has some well-researched answers, which will have implications for my own existence apart from their considerable historical interest in the question of culture and identity.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, Book Reviews, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Non-Book Review: To Live And Die In Dixie

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