Lost Cause Myth

These three essays explore var­i­ous aspects of the mythol­ogy of the Lost Cause. The first two essays dis­cuss how James McPher­son and Gary Gal­lagher have devoted their aca­d­e­mic careers to debunk­ing this per­va­sive dis­tor­tion of Civil War his­tory. The third essay is a broader look at the entire field of Lost Cause historiography.

James McPher­son and the Amer­i­can Civil War”

James McPher­son has devoted his aca­d­e­mic career to writ­ing acces­si­ble, but schol­arly, his­tor­i­cal prose. This essay traces his career with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on his efforts to debunk the mythol­ogy of the Lost Cause and some of the his­to­ri­ans who have influ­enced him.

pdf link: osullivan_mcpherson_pdf

Gary Gal­lagher and the Amer­i­can Civil War”

Gary Gal­lagher is one of the most pro­lific debunkers of the Lost Cause myth in the aca­d­e­mic world. In this essay I dis­cuss how Gal­lagher takes on many aspects of the myth with par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the mil­i­tary aspects of the Lost Cause.

pdf link: osullivan_gallagher_pdf

The Lost Cause Myth in Amer­i­can His­tory Writing”

In the pop­u­lar mind the mythol­ogy of the Lost Cause has best explained the his­tory of the Civil War for the last 150 years. Within the last half cen­tury or so, his­to­ri­ans have shown the Lost Cause to be a web of dis­tor­tion, that, although it remains attrac­tive to many peo­ple, is eas­ily con­tra­dicted with schol­arly research. This essay sum­ma­rizes some of the most promi­nent schol­ar­ship on the sub­ject of the Lost Cause. I have iden­ti­fied four peri­ods into which the devel­op­ment of this mythol­ogy can be divided.

pdf link: osullivan_lost_cause_pdf

Comments are closed.