Civil War Scholar VisitsGAMBIER, Ohio (March 15, 2009) Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson visits Kenyon this month to share his insights into the American Civil War.
McPherson, who is known for making the scholarly pursuit of the Civil War accessible to the public, will lecture on "Ohio and the Slavery Issue in the Civil War" on Monday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Higley Auditorium. A Common Hour talk on Tuesday, March 24, in the Peirce Hall Lounge will take the shape of a conversation with McPherson.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1988 book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. The book helped prompt a groundswell of public interest in the Civil War and stirred interest in visits to historic battlefields. McPherson has been a frequent visitor to battlefields and champions their preservation.
In an interview with Humanities magazine, McPherson attributed the enduring interest in the Civil War to unresolved issues regarding the federal government and slavery left in its wake. "The relationships between the national government and regions, race relations, the role of government in trying to bring about change in race relations -- these issues are still important in American society today," McPherson said.
Battle Cry of Freedom may be the best single-volume history of the war, said Joseph Klesner, professor of political science and department chair. "James McPherson is the preeminent, living historian of the Civil War period," Klesner said. McPherson, Klesner added, "has an armload of books to his credit."
McPherson, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Emeritus, at Princeton University, also wrote Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (2008) and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1997). Both won the Lincoln Prize awarded for the best non-fiction historical work of the year by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
The visit is sponsored by Faculty Lectureships.