There is, and can be, no single volume history to adequately cover an event like the Southern War for Independence. Discovering its history is like pealing a gigantic onion one layer at a time and even then there are more than a few dubious conclusions lying in ambush for the most objective historians. Kuntsler seems to be a painter of keen perception and abiding sympathy for his subjects and even though that may keep some of the villains from being painted as dark as they should be it perhaps gives all a commonality that allows understanding. When you compare his work to the opening and closing illustrations in this post you can understand the importance of the objective artist in presenting history and why we commend this book as an aid to understanding.
A biting vilification of the Confederacy, representing it as a government in league with Satan. From left to right are: “Mr. Mob Law Chief Justice,” a well-armed ruffian carrying a pot of tar; Secretary of State Robert Toombs raising a staff with a “Letter of Marque” (a governmental authorization to seize subjects or property of foreign state, here a reference to Georgia’s January seizure of federal Fort Pulaski and the Augusta arsenal); CSA President Jefferson Davis, wearing saber and spurs. Vice President Alexander Stephens holds forward a list of “The Fundamental Principles of our Government,” including treason, rebellion, murder, robbery, incendiarism, and theft. Behind the group, on horseback, is Confederate general Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, commander of forces at the bombardment of Fort Sumter. The delegation is received by Satan and two demonic attendants, who sit in a large cave at right. One attendant has over his shoulder a gallows from which hangs a corpse; the other holds a pitchfork. Satan holds a crown and scepter for Davis in his right hand, while in his left hand he hides a noose behind his back. He greets the Confederates, “Truly! Fit representatives of our Realm.” Over his head flies a banner with the palmetto of South Carolina and six stars. A large snake curls round its staff.
For us the living : the Civil War in paintings and eyewitness accounts Mort Kunstler ; text by James I. Robertson, Jr. ; foreword by Harold Holzer New York : Sterling, 2010 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 244 p. : ill. ; 29 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
The Civil War tore the nation apart, pitting brother against brother. Marking the sesquicentennial of this epic struggle for America’s soul, which began in 1861, For Us the Living features stunning paintings by acclaimed Civil War artist Mort Künstler paired with stirring text by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author James I. Robertson, Jr.
No other Civil War book equals this breathtaking volume, which brings the crisis to life through eyewitness accounts and dramatic art. Robertson insightfully describes key events in each year of the conflict, weaving his words together with those of the people who lived through it – and Künstler’s masterful paintings illuminate it all.
A grand allegory of the reconciliation of North and South through the federal program of Reconstruction. Visionary in its breadth and scale, the work is a remarkable combination of religious and patriotic ideology. In “Bateman’s National Picture” (as the print is termed in a published key) the government is represented as a colossal pavilion-like structure. It has a broad, flattened dome or canopy, on which is drawn a map of the United States, with a shallow drum with a frieze showing the Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court, and cabinet. The drum is supported by two systems of slender columns–the straight, outer ones representing the state governments, and the curved inner ones the people. Atop the dome is an eagle with flag and shield. The structure is literally undergoing “reconstruction.” The bases of the columns of the former Confederate states are being replaced with new ones. The old bases are called “Foundations of Slavery.” The new ones represent Justice, Liberty, and Education. Under the watchful supervision of the military, civilians carry the new columns and put them into place. The scene is teeming with other symbols and figures. The sky is filled with a multitude of faces–American statesman, public figures, and other historical characters (among others, Joan of Arc and John Milton). Daniel Webster and John Calhoun are prominently featured. The aerial host surrounds the figure of Christ, who says, “Do to other as you would have them do to you.” Flanking the group are Justice (left) and Liberty (right). Below, beneath the canopy, representatives of the North are reconciled with their Southern counterparts. Union generals Benjamin Butler and Ulysses S. Grant clasp hands with Confederates P. T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, respectively, and Horace Greeley embraces Jefferson Davis. Below in a small vignette two infants–one black and one white–lie sleeping in their baskets. Above them flies an eagle with a streamer reading “”All men are born free and equal.”