Review of Willis, Deborah, The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship
Ask any Civil War historian what they find compelling about studying America’s great national conflict and you are almost certain to receive an answer that includes the war’s visual culture. The war transformed many aspects of American life and culture; it was one of the first modern conflicts to be brought home to civilians via the medium of photography. In The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship, Deborah Willis has compiled arresting images and a compelling narrative. She argues that photography helped African Americans to form communities and forge a cultural identity as the country underwent its new birth of freedom.