Funny Thing About the Civil War

The Humor of an American Tragedy


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SKU: 9781476692357 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

Examining humor in depictions of the Civil War from the war years to the present, this review covers a wide range of literature, film and television in historical context. Wartime humor served as a form of propaganda to render the enemy and their cause laughable, but also to help people cope with the human costs of the conflict. After the war many authors and, later, movie and television producers employed humor to shape its legacy, perpetuating myths and stereotypes that became ingrained in American memory. Giving attention to the stories behind the stories, the author focuses on what people laughed at, who they laughed with and what it reveals about their view of events.

About the Author(s)

Thomas F. Curran, PhD, teaches in the department of social studies at Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas F. Curran

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 230
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9235-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5029-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: What’s So Funny About the Civil War? 1

Part I. “Crude partisan versifying on both sides”: The Wartime Writers 5
The Crackerbox Philosophers 5
“Where are the women among … the ‘literary comedians’ of the 1860s?” 16
The Biblical Satirists 19
The Scarlet Copperhead 22
“A period which produced so many good war songs, and so much bad war verse” 29
Two Fremantles, a Mule, and the Civil Wargasm 43
This Book Is Brought to You by the Committee to Elect George McClellan 51
Appendix (or Is That Appendage?) 57
“A delightful denunciation of Federal commanders” 59
Are “Two Federal Pens” Mightier Than Two Swords? 65

Part II. “The war was a draw game, and … both sides were whipped”: The Post-War Writers 71
How I Put Down the Rebellion 73
My Real Story Will Never Get into the Century’s Battles and Leaders Books 77
After a While They All Sound the Same… 81
… But This One Looks Like a Comic Book 94
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword (or Is That the Pin?) 98
The Many Lives of the Jordan Anderson Letter 104
Grant vs. Lee 109
A Tale of Two Kleggs 113
Uncle Remus Was White! 118
And Ambrose Bierce Was “an ­Equal-Opportunity Hater” 122
An Unrenowned Warrior 125
Postmodernism? We Haven’t Even Done Modernism Yet! 128
Girls Will Be Boys and Boys Will Be Girls 134

Part III. “Those who still fight the last romantic war”: The Next Generations 139
The Blue and Gray in Black and White, Then in Technicolor 140
What If Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog Wrote a Biography? 145
Frankly, I Do Give a Damn 149
Happy Birthday, Gray and Blue 157
States’ Rights of the Living Dead 167
Everything Old Is New Again 175

Conclusion 185
Chapter Notes 187
Works Cited 199
Index 213