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Archive for February 19th, 2016

This Republic of Suffering

Drew Gilpin Faust. This Republic of Suffering.  New York, NY: Knopf, January 8th, 2008. 368 pp.

This books look on the subject of death during the American Civil War.  The author made the point that the business of dying and also taking of life is work. From this point the writer explores the cultural, social and spiritual aspect of death during the war and also how the war changed people’s perceptions about death, life and spirituality.

I found the book insightful with how the author described the pre-war Victorian era assumption of the good death that involves dying at home among family members.  The author also noted that this scenery of the good death was not only important for the person dying but also for the surviving family members and friends who were present since they could evaluate the destiny of the person’s eternity from how a person dies.  It is assumed that on one’s dying bed a person would be more honest and thus reveal whether the person dying have been right with God and ready for the eternal state.  It is a means of comfort to observe someone’s parting moment.  Of course the importance of dying in a familiar domestic areas and among familiar people of course was interrupted by the war, in which soldiers died in strange areas among strangers in horrific manners.  We see here people trying to adjust to that in how fellow soldiers wrote about another’s soldiers’ death to surviving loved ones, giving clues to whether or not that person was at peace in anticipation of eternity and doctors and nurses writing about the last moments of a wounded soldier.  The author noted that among these letters there is a strong desire to be honest and yet comforting to the families.

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