Notes Concerning the Author
David Silkenat, a native of New York City, received his undergraduate degree in History from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and his graduate study was at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He taught at North Dakota State University and is currently a lecturer in the School of History, Classics and Archeology at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Scotland. He has written two books, Driven from Home: North Carolina’s Civil War Refugee Crisis (University of Georgia Press, 2016) and Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
Dr. Silkenat’s book is presented as an overview of the refugee crisis created in North Carolina due to the War Between the States. He gives an overview of the various demographics affected by the war, how their lives were turned upside down and how they attempted to survive this period. He brings forth this presentation from a wide number of sources such as manuscripts, primary and secondary sources. He breaks down the demographics into groups such as slaves, union sympathizers, loyal Confederates, both young and old, and planters. With each of these groups he covers their situation/status at the beginning of the war, their movements during the war, their motivations for such and the effects they have on the locations that they travel to. North Carolinians are the primary subjects covered in the book though the author highlights the number of refugees from these various groups that came from other areas to North Carolina from across the South.
When first seeing the book and the release date you assume that it is written in an overtly political correct manner though after having read the book it was well worth reading. In the beginning he centers on black refugees/slaves and their interaction with federal troops in eastern North Carolina and with his concentration on this topic gives the reader an indication of a politically correct work though afterwards he opens with a broader view covering the other groups previously mentioned in a seemingly unbiased manner. The authors main focus is to give a behind the scenes look into the humanitarian crisis that took place in North Carolina during this period in all levels of society.
The book has a comprehensive bibliography with extensive usage of manuscripts from various collections, newspapers of the period, primary and secondary sources. I enjoyed this book especially after managing to get through the heavy concentration of his first topic and his coverage of all groups affected gave me new insight on a less often discussed topic from the war.
Availability of this Book
Available new, used, and as e-book on Amazon and new hard cover at Walmart. See at Amazon by clicking below: https://www.amazon.com/Driven-Home-Carolinas-Refugee-UnCivil/dp/0820349461, and Walmart at https://www.walmart.com/ip/Driven-from-Home-North-Carolina-s-Civil-War-Refugee-Crisis/52288762
Reviewed by Jonathan Varnell