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Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, by Brian Matthew Jordan

New York: Liveright, W.W. Norton, 2015. Pp. x, 374. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $28.95. ISBN: 0871407817.

Billy Yank Comes Home

Dr. Jordan (Sam Houston State) takes what is essentially the first serious look at the complex experiences of the Union veteran in the postwar years. He opens where most books on the Civil War end, with the great victory parade in Washington on May 23rd and 24th, 1865. Jordan then spends a chapter on the ways in which the men made their way home and another on their initial readjustment to civil life. 

Jordan then follows these men through the ensuing decades. While most of them readjusted to civil life more or less well, Jordan looks at the longer-term problems of reintegration. In a culture unsympathetic to disabilities and perceived “weakness,” many veterans had to cope with with physical disabilities, suffered from "Soldier's Disease" or "Nostalgia," what we now know as “PTSD”, had addiction problems, whether to drink or opiates, and often endured severe family tensions (Jordan oddly does not mention the elevated postwar divorce rate), and often struggled with the bureaucracy over pensions. 

Jordan concludes the book with a look at the ways in which the veterans coped with remembrance, reconciliation , and commemoration. Marching Home is a timely work, given our increasing understanding of the long term effects of combat on the human psyche.

 

Note: Marching Home is also available in paperback, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-63149-146-7, and in several e-Pub and audiobook formats.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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