A Changing Wind

Commerce and Conflict in Civil War Atlanta

Wendy Hamand Venet

View Inside Price: $30.00


May 20, 2014
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
15 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300192162
Cloth

A compelling exploration of what real life was like for residents of Civil War–era Atlanta

In 1845, Atlanta was the last stop at the end of a railroad line, the home of just twelve families and three general stores. By the 1860s, it was a thriving Confederate city, second only to Richmond in importance. A Changing Wind is the first history to explore the experiences of Atlanta’s civilians during the young city’s rapid growth, the devastation of the Civil War, and the Reconstruction era when Atlanta emerged as a “New South” city.
 
A Changing Wind vividly brings to life the stories of Atlanta’s diverse citizens—white and black, free and enslaved, well-to-do and everyday people. A rich and compelling account of residents’ changing loyalties to the Union and the Confederacy, the book highlights the unequal economic and social impacts of the war, General Sherman’s siege, and the stunning rebirth of the city in postwar years. The final chapter of the book focuses on Atlanta’s historical memory of the Civil War and how racial divisions have led to separate commemorations of the war’s meaning.
Wendy Hamand Venet is professor, Department of History, Georgia State University. She is editor of Sam Richards’s Civil War Diary. She lives in Decatur, GA.
“Wendy Venet takes the reader deep into the vibrant life of a young Atlanta, tells the story of how it became a burned and hungry place, and draws into one compelling narrative the diverse and competing voices of those who refused to let Atlanta be gone with the wind.”—Erskine Clarke, author of Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic
“Wendy Venet’s timely, informative volume probes the Civil War era’s powerful and dramatic transitions, including a vast and engaging cast of local characters. She provides readers with a wide range of evidence to appreciate, among other transformations, the impact of emancipation as well as wrenching economic upheavals. Venet whets our appetites within the pages of her slim, yet essential guide to Civil War Atlanta.” —Catherine Clinton, Queen’s University Belfast
“Wendy Venet has provided a rich sense of what Civil War Atlanta was like for those who experienced and helped to shape it at ground zero. Expertly melding an untidy story of conflict and turmoil at the grassroots with the overarching realities of traditional power and influence, Venet demonstrates that the critical constant over the last 150 years of the city’s history has been, as it remains to this day, an aggressive business class consistently pumping optimism and unfailingly alert to the main chance.”—James C. Cobb, author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

“Wendy Hamand Venet seeks to fill a significant void in the literature about slave cities during the Civil War with this new, ambitious study of Civil War Atlanta. A riveting work, Venet’s study draws from rich primary sources and features a wonderful diversity of voices.”—William Link, University of Florida

"Venet shows that to understand Atlanta’s early history, we must recognize the significance of a variety of ambitious speculators—entrepreneurs, politicians, soldiers, benevolent reformers, consumers, and slaves—who built, tore down, and rebuilt an urban social order. . . .  [A Changing Wind] deserves a wide readership."—Brian P. Luskey, The Civil War Monitor

“A solid account of the city’s experience, as told by the residents themselves. . . . The real value of A Changing Wind is found in Venet’s careful reconstruction of the wartime experience of everyday Atlantans. . . . The deep immersion into the day-by-day unfolding of the Civil War in the Gate City showcases Venet’s skills as a narrative historian. And although we know the outcome of the struggle, her depiction of the panicked city injects a sense of contingency and urgency rarely found in historical accounts of the Civil War. . . . A Changing Wind reminds us to pause amidst Atlanta’s relentless quest to be the city of the future and remember the remarkable nature of its past.”—Sean Patrick Adams, Civil War Book Review