Jul 31, 2023
What can the Civil War teach us about leadership? What can movies and books teach us about the Civil War?
These are the central questions at the heart of a pair of new books published by St. Bonaventure University Professor Chris Mackowski. Mackowski served as the editor of one essay collection, titled “Fallen Leaders,” and co-editor of the other, with Jon Tracey, titled “The Civil War and Pop Culture.” Both books are published by Savas Beatie, LLC, as part of the Emerging Civil War 10th Anniversary Series.
Mackowski serves as the editor in chief of Emerging Civil War (ECW), an online forum for more than 30 historians dedicated to connecting the general public to the story of the American Civil War. Savas Beatie launched Emerging Civil War 10th Anniversary Series to collect the “best of” from the ECW blog, transcripts from presentations at ECW’s annual symposia, transcripts from the Emerging Civil War Podcast, and original essays.
“‘Fallen Leaders’ looks at Civil War leaders — from army commanders on down to the regimental level — who were either killed or wounded in battle or who ‘fell from grace,” Mackowski said. “What kind of impact does it have when a leader is suddenly removed from the chessboard? What can we learn from these men as they served and as they fell?”
“Fallen Leaders” features 49 contributions by 29 authors and a foreword by Dr. Zachary Fry, who teaches in the Department of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
“Pop Culture,” meanwhile, includes 39 essays by 26 authors and a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-finalist Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan. Jordan chairs the Department of History at Sam Houston State University in Texas.
One of the book’s essays was written by former Jandoli School faculty member Patrick Vecchio. Vecchio’s essay, “Driving Dixie Down,” looks at the song “The Night They Drove Dixie Down” by The Band.
Mackowski said “Pop Culture” can serve as a powerful hook to get people interested in history.
“Over and over, I hear people talk about the impact a movie like ‘Gettysburg’ or ‘Glory’ had in getting them interested in the Civil War. Or maybe they read the novel ‘The Killer Angels’ or ‘Cold Mountain.’ Our book looks at some of those ways that our wider culture engages with and interacts with the Civil War and the impact that can have in capturing their interest,” he said.
Mackowski teaches writing in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure and also serves as the school’s associate dean for undergraduate programs. He has authored or co-authored nearly two dozen books and edited a half-dozen essay collections on the Civil War. He has taught at St. Bonaventure since the fall of 2000.
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