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Mary Chesnut's Diary


The incomparable Civil War diarist Mary Chestnut wrote that she had the luck "always to stumble in on the real show." Married to a high-ranking member of the Confederate government, she was ideally placed to watch and to record the South's headlong plunge to ruin, and she left in her journals an unsurpassed account of the old regime's death throes, its moment of high drama in world history. With intelligence and passion she described the turbulent events of politics and war, as well as the complex society around her. In her own circles, the aristocratic, patriarchal, slave-holding Mary Chesnut was a figure of heresy and of paradox: she had a horror of slavery and called herself an abolitionist from early youth.

Edited by the eminent historian C. Vann Woodward, Mary Chesnut's Civil War presents a full and reliable edition of Chesnut's journals, restoring her to her rightful place in American history and literature.