This study group will be the first in a two-part series exploring the Civil War through the history of two communities, one northern (in Pennsylvania) and one southern (in Virginia). Viewing the war from the perspective of two “border” localities, Edward L. Ayers depicts the war “from the viewpoints of everyday people” for whom “the war constantly changed its meaning and implications” in the sweep of violence and social change which engulfed the nation. The first volume in a series of two covers the coming of the war and its early years, ending in the summer of 1863, just before Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania culminated in the Gettysburg battle. Seeking a history both “more inclusive and more intimate,” Ayers shows us ordinary Americans living their lives in a historical maelstrom they only partly understand. In doing so he has created one of the first great 21st century works of Civil War history. Our text is In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859 – 1863
(W.W. Norton, 2004) by Edward L. Ayers. Join us in reading this compelling, prize winning story by one of America’s preeminent Civil War historians.