Jewish Soldiers in the Civil War: The Union Army

New York Univ. Nov. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9781479812233. $35. HIST
The introduction of this work refers to flaws in the portrayal of Jewish soldiers of the Civil War. It notes that initial accounts of the Jewish Civil War experience consisted largely of sentimentalism and myths, such as the story of the exhausted Jewish soldier refusing water on the battlefield due to Yom Kippur. In this first of two guides (volume two pertains to Confederate Jewish soldiers), Mendelsohn (history, dir. Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies, Univ. of Cape Town; The Rag Race) avoids these types of narratives by telling the far more compelling and complex story of Jews in the Union army. Mendelsohn draws upon the Shapell Roster, the first comprehensive data archive documenting Jewish soldiers who served in the American Civil War. The author examines the overall Jewish experience, including why they enlisted and how they sought community during the war. He also illustrates how their experience was different from other ethnic groups. This guide is also augmented by 60 color images and several useful appendices.
VERDICT Highly recommended as a work that will make a fine addition to a comprehensive Civil War collection.
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