08/22/2012 12:23 PM
BATON ROUGE – Keith D. Dickson’s “Sustaining Southern Identity: Douglas Southall Freeman
and Memory in the Modern South,” which was published by LSU Press in November 2011,
won the Richard Slatten Award for Excellence in Biography from the Virginia Historical
Society in July. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to Virginia biography.
The volume focuses on Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman, who,
perhaps more than any other writer in the first half of the 20th century, helped shape
and sustain a collective identity for white southerners. A journalist, lecturer, radio
broadcaster, and teacher of renown, Freeman wrote and spoke on themes related to southern
memory throughout his life.
The book offers a masterful intellectual biography of Freeman as well as a comprehensive
analysis of how twentieth-century southerners came to remember the Civil War, fashion
their values and ideals, and identify themselves as citizens of the South. Dickson’s
work underscores Freeman’s contributions to the enduring memory of Confederate courage
and sacrifice in southern culture.
The longtime editor of the “Richmond News Leader,” Freeman wrote several authoritative
and extraordinarily influential multivolume historical narratives about both Confederate
Gen. Robert E. Lee and the high command of the Army of Northern Virginia. His contributions
to the enduring southern memory framework – with its grand narrative of Confederate
courage and sacrifice, and its attachment to symbols and rituals – still serve as
a touchstone for the memory-truths that define a distinct identity in the South.
Dickson is a professor of military studies at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk,
Va., a college within the National Defense University.
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2012