Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Mosby Myth

Having finished reading The Mosby Myth, I thought I would quickly share a few thoughts about this unusual work of Civil War scholarship. 
The book is really divided into two halves. The first half is a short biography of John Singleton Mosby with an emphasis on his Civil War years and how the newspapers portrayed him during the war. The second half of the book is an analysis of all the Mosby ‘stuff’ that has appeared since the war.  Most of this space is dominated by the novels that have included Mosby and the short-running television series, ‘The Gray Ghost’, although it also covers items such as paintings, board games, and even a wine label.
The book is well written, and it is only in the few places where the authors stopped to discuss literary and mythic theories that I felt my interest lagging. Many years of English academia have fulfilled my quota of literary criticism.
The real question, perhaps, is who exactly is the target audience for this book? If you are after a biography of Mosby or a history of his wartime activities, there are probably better books out there. If you are interested in Mosby novels or movies, you are probably better trying to find them on ebay.  However, if you’ve already read a few Mosby books and are interested in the various media that has kept his legend alive over the last 150 years, then this book might just be for you.

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