(A)cts of Valor

For the beginning of my alphabetic project, I went to the Netflix instant streaming catalog, and just put the letter "A" in the search field. Mistake. That's not near enough information to process, so it just threw up twenty or so selections. So I tried progressive two-letter combinations like "Ab" and "Ad". I reached "Af" before I found something that looked like it would fit the bill.

That something was Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War, a special on the History Channel that explored the Reconstruction period after Lee's surrender. I've been getting increasingly interested in historical topics lately, so I'm not surprised that I was drawn in by this. Several topics were covered, from how the newly-freed slaves were locked out of any viable forms of the Southern ecomony to the explosions of violence and reprisals that became a daily fact of life. I also appreciated that they took the time to step out of the black vs. white box to go into how Native Americans also figured into this period, with a large chunk of time devoted to the Lowry Gang.

Like most programming on the History Channel, the special was a bit over-produced and cheesy, but not distractingly so. The big eyebrow raise came with a couple of interviews with a couple who have written a book about Reconstruction from a more Southern point of view. Their inclusion was fascinating, but gobsmackingly sympathetic to the Confederacy's woes during this time, as if the North should have given them a slap on the wrist for attempting to rend the country in two.

It was an intensely sad period for all involved. After all, this is when the KKK was born, and supposedly free citizens were as targeted for intimidation and murder as they were during the war, but no longer had the Union army at their back. In fact, the special ends on the somber note that retaliatory violence against Southern insurgents was about the only effective method of regaining any amount of control.

Nobody ever said that learning about our nation's history would be a relentlessly cheery prospect. Oh, well. At least the guy who played Daniel Upham in the reenactments was hot.

Aftershock: Beyond the Civil War: B


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