Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Heroes and Cowards: Updated and Bumped

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, chief conspirator Eugene Volokh discusses a Civil War related title I haven't seen mentioned in the CW Blogosphere: Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War.
The book looks fascinating, and has gotten accolades from some top people both in military history (for instance, James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom) and in the social science of social relationships (for instance, Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community). "This remarkable book is destined to become a classic in social science," writes Putnam, who certainly knows things about classics in social science. "It addresses issues of supreme importance and timeliness -- loyalty, betrayal, heroism, cowardice, survival, the challenges of diversity, and the benefits of social bonds. It rests on rigorous statistical analysis of an extraordinary historical archive, and yet it is so readable as to be unputdownable. It deals with a single epochal event in one nation's history -- the U.S. Civil War -- and yet its lessons are highly relevant in many other eras and societies, including our own."

Professor Volokh reports that the authors, Dora Costa and Matthew Kahn, will be guest-blogging next week at his site. Students of the Civil War and military history would be well advised to keep an eye open.

Update and Bump:

The authors discuss their data sources here.

The book is reviewed in the Wall Street Journal here.

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