The Historian's Red Badge of Courage
Reading Stephen Crane's Masterpiece as Social and Cultural History
Edited by Paul A. Cimbala
July 2020, 338pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5425-5
$75, £56, 63€, A108
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5426-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

More than 200,000 of the Union soldiers who served in the American Civil War were teenagers.

For someone who did not actually fight in the American Civil War, Stephen Crane was extraordinarily accurate in his description of the psychological tension experienced by a youthful soldier grappling with his desire to act heroically, his fears, and redemption.

Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage provides an extraordinary take on the battlefield experiences of a young soldier coming of age under extreme circumstances. His writing took place a generation after the war’s conclusion, at a time when the entire nation was coming to grips with the meaning of the Civil War. It was during this time in the late 19th century that the battle over the memory of the war was taking place.

This new, annotated edition of the novel is designed to guide readers through references made through Crane’s characters and how they reflect Civil War military experiences—specifically how “the youth’s” experiences reflect the reality of the multi-day battle of Chancellorsville, which took place in Virginia beginning on May 1, 1863, and concluded on May 4 of the same year. The annotated text is preceded by introductory essays on Crane and on the Civil War. Crane’s short story “The Veteran” is also included to allow readers to better understand the post-war lives of Civil War soldiers.


  • Explains key background information for better understanding The Red Badge of Courage
  • Includes introductory essays on Crane and on the Civil War
  • Provides the full text for both Red Badge and Crane's lesser-known short story "The Veteran" with comprehensive annotations that illuminate the links between the stories and their historical contexts
Paul A. Cimbala is professor of history at Fordham University, The Bronx, NY. He is author of Veterans North and South: The Transition from Soldier to Civilian after the American Civil War; Soldiers North and South: The Everyday Experiences of the Men Who Fought America’s Civil War; and Under the Guardianship of the Nation: The Freedmen's Bureau and the Reconstruction of Georgia, 1865–1870 as well as coauthor, with Randall M. Miller, of The Northern Home Front during the Civil War. He has also coedited, with Randall M. Miller, several essay collections on the Civil War, including Civil War Soldiers and the Northern Home Front.
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