It’s a What…?

So what was your beach reading list like this year? I recently finished reading This Republic of Suffering: Death in the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust. Not exactly cheery summer fare, I suppose, by fascinating nonetheless in this, the sesqui-centenary of that dreadful conflict. The book points out how, in the face of mind-numbing casualties, Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line struggled to develop a new understanding of death, if you will. The deep-seated need to recover tangible remains of a loved one in order to achieve some measure of closure was often complicated by the relative remoteness of battlefields, the horrific impact of modern munitions (and disease) on human flesh, and the predictable effects of heat and humidity on corpses. With me so far? Good! Continue reading