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American Civil War Reading Program

Making Sense of the American Civil War


In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Idaho Falls Public Library, in partnership with the Idaho Humanities Council, is offering a five-meeting, scholar-led reading/discussion program exploring the theme "Making Sense of the American Civil War," in February, 2013.  The program is free, and anyone interested in participating may register at the Idaho Falls Public Library, located at 457 W. Broadway, Idaho Falls, ID, (208) 612-8330.

Seating is limited and participants must attend all five meetings.  Each participant will receive three books available on loan for the series.  The final deadline to register is Friday, Feb. 8.

The five two-hour book discussions are scheduled for five evenings, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., on the following dates:  February 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at the library.

"Making Sense of the Civil War," is a program designed to give a glimpse of the vast sweep and profound breadth of Americans in war among and against themselves.  The series is organized as a series of "conversations" that are meant to be considered together.  Each conversation is itself arranged as an unfolding story, moving forward in time.  Some of the readings were written by eyewitnesses, some written for perhaps only one other person to read, while others were well researched after the passage of time and imagined for vast audiences.  A hundred and fifty years after the defining war in our nation's history, Americans are still discovering its meanings.

The discussion series is based on the readings of three books:

MarchMarch, by Geraldine Brooks, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel, which tells its story through the voices of characters from another novel, Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  Americas WarAmerica's War, edited by historian Edward L. Ayers, is mostly a collection of writings by people who had to decide for themselves before and during the war where justice, honor, duty, and loyalty lay, including selections written by Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and many others.  Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, by historian James McPherson, explores the battle in the fall of 1862 that changed the course of the Civil War.

Scholars who will lecture and facilitate discussions so far include:  University of Idaho History Professor anAntietamd Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences Katherine Aiken; Boise State University Cecil D. Andrus Professor of Public Affairs David Adler; Idaho State University History Professors Ron Hatzenbueler and James Francis; and local historian Jerry Scheid.  The series will kick off on Monday, February 11, with a discussion about the origins of the Civil War.

For more information about the series, and copies of the three texts, contact the Idaho Falls Public Library at (208) 612-8330.

To read the essay "Making Sense of the American Civil War" written by Edward L. Ayers, please click on this link.  Making Sense of the American Civil War.

Please complete the American Civil War Evaluation form by following this link:  Evaluation Form.

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