It seems I started this little blog only yesterday, but lo and behold I’ve been at it for an entire year! Thanks to everyone who’s dropped by—whoever you are and however much you read—and a special thanks to those who helped spread the word, especially Kevin Levin over at Civil War Memory and my old buddy Glenn Brasher at History Headlines. 2015 was a bit of an experiment, but I think things worked out pretty well and most of you have responded positively. My plan was to bounce around different subjects, genres, and art forms, and it’s been interesting to see how my audience had changed or grown depending on the subject. As a general rule, the posts that aren’t main “entries” tend to do better, in part because they’re more likely to get “shared” and retweeted. Some of my biggest surprises were the duds (you guys aren’t nearly as interested in John Wayne and D. W. Giffith as I expected) but that comes with the territory. So, I thought it might be fun to do a little year in review by listing my 10 most popular posts in ascending order. Enjoy, and please keep reading and commenting in 2016!
10. BBC Radio’s Civil War Music Doc Is Great. This was more of a “share” than a proper entry, but I was delighted to turn people onto this excellent documentary . . . and hey, Kris Kristofferson said my name!
9. Entry 15 (Part 2): Is Gettysburg A Lost Cause Film? One of the few posts I successfully predicted would bring in traffic. Everyone has an opinion on Gettysburg. Look out for the follow-up later this year: Is The Killer Angels a Lost Cause novel?
8. Entry 16: The Film That Changed Everything. More praise for Glenn Brasher, this time for his awesome guest post on Glory‘s place in the history of Civil War pop culture and his own life. The year’s other guest post, Stacy Pratt McDermott on Lincoln, was also unsurprisingly excellent and came in just shy of the Top 10.
7. On The Confederate Battle Flag. My contribution to the ongoing debate on the history and current place of Confederate symbols. I’m sure you won’t be shocked to see I considered how popular culture has influenced the flag’s meaning.
6. Ken Burns Made Me A Civil War Historian. PBS’s The Civil War turned 25 this year and a few folks took it to task for its interpretive weaknesses. Instead, I focused on its widespread positive influence by describing how it sparked my interest in American history.
5. What Does Point of Honor’s Failure Mean. In the circle of Civil War historians, nothing generated a combination of analysis and schadenfreude like Amazon’s Civil War bomb about an improbable Confederate abolitionist slaveholding family. Here, I wonder how much it’s failure tells us about what audiences expect from Civil War fiction.
4. Entry 1: Granny vs. Grant. My first review and still one of my favorites.
3. Greetings Fellow Civil War and Pop Culture Geeks! The post that started it all exactly one year ago today! Thanks to everyone for launching the site with so much support.
2. On Selma. My most consistently viewed post of the year. If my Google stats are to be believed, a lot of students consulted it for school projects, which is extremely gratifying.
1. The Potential of the Free State of Jones. This only went up in late November and it’s already jumped to the head of the pack. Seems like strong evidence that us Civil War geeks are pretty stoked for this film.
So, there you have it. 2016 looks like it’s going to be a doozy for the Civil War in popular culture (I was already blown away by The Hateful Eight). However it turns out, I’ll have fun writing about it and hope you’ll all have fun joining me.