Pulitzer-Prize winning author Tony Horwitz died this week, at age 60. He was on book tour for his latest work, Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide.
A longtime staffwriter at The New Yorker, Horwitz is arguably best known for Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, his nonfiction exploration of “hard-core reenactors, Scarlett O’Hara look-alikes, and people who reshape Civil War history to suit the way they wish it had come out,” according to James McPherson. In 2000, Confederates in the Attic was added to the freshman reading list at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Horwitz also wrote the bestsellig Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, which retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world, among many other books.
Obituaries and memorials abound:
Some of Confederates in the Attic focuses on the Carolinas. From Slate:
Horwitz meets some people with some pretty confused ideas about history. In reporting on his visit to a meeting of a group called Children of the Confederacy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Horwitz partially reproduces the text of the organizationâ€™s ‘catechism,’ a pamphlet of questions and answers that the children were expected to memorize: ‘Q. What was the feeling of the slaves towards their masters? A. They were faithful and devoted and were always ready and willing to serve them.’ …The value of Horwitzâ€™s reporting is in his careful questioning of some of the attendees of the meeting, including Beth, a ‘tall, intense girl of twelve with braces and a black barrette stuck crookedly in her hair.’ Beth calls herself ‘not prejudiced’ and allows: ‘Iâ€™m sure there were some good things about the North.’ She also (like many a 12-year-old) is obsessed with Anne Frank, and with the victims of the Holocaust in general. ‘What gets me is the heart of the Jews,’ Beth tells Horwitz. ‘They were underdogs, they knew they were going to die but they didnâ€™t give up the faith. Just like the Confederates.’
Years later, Horwitz’s writing feels more crucial than ever.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.