Living in the United States, it's easy to become (and remain) insulated from international thinking and to lose perspective on American life and culture. It's always interesting and eye-opening to see international opinion of America.
The Pulitzer Prize for Literature was awarded this week to Geraldine Brooks for her book March. March is the story of the father of the Louisa May Alcott's Little Women family, who exists in Little Women as only the shadowy dad away fighting the Civil War. In March, he takes center stage as Ms. Brooks imagines his battlefield experiences.
Sounds like an intriguing read, especially for anyone who grew up reading Louisa May Alcott's books about the March family. But this post isn't about that, it's about international reaction to this book's having received the Pulitzer.
In an article in a Sydney, Australia newspaper, a reporter named Russell Wenholz ponders what the big deal is with the American Civil War anyway, and attributes the continuing parade of books about the Civil War to "American self-promotion".
I have never been able to see how a conflict - which in this case resulted in the eloquent northerners making the slave-owning southerners the most beautiful losers of all-time - can have forged a nation. So many books and movies have come out of America that seek to foist this opinion upon us....
What is it about this war? The high number of deaths per soldier? The needless slaughter? Perhaps it was the "civil" bit. It was American against American. Perhaps that is what appeals to them. It was exclusively theirs. No one else was involved. Is this something to be proud of?
A Washington Post review of March is here.