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 what it meant to live in Atlanta during its rapid growth, its devastation in the Civil War, and its rise as a “New South” city during Reconstruction.
A Changing Wind brings to life the stories of Atlanta’s diverse citizens. In a rich 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 focuses on Atlanta’s collective memory of the Civil War, showing how racial divisions have led to differing views on the war’s meaning and place in the city’s history.
An entertaining narrative that evocatively places readers in the midst of Civil War–era Atlanta. This is quite an accomplishment.
—Andrew I. Slap, Journal of American History
Overflows with telling details that make the wartime city feel real. . . . Venet gives readers the most fully realized portrait of the fledgling city to date. This is, perhaps, unusually important for a city which, Venet notes, retains no physical vestiges of its Confederate past. But the true measure of her accomplishment is that she has produced a brisk, spirited account that simultaneously manages to be comprehensive.
—Chad Morgan, American Historical Review
A readily accessible and well-researched overview of the ‘Gate City’s’ wartime history. . . . All southern cities contained opponents of secession, and Venet situates Atlanta’s Unionist sentiment within a broader framework of disaffection that manifested itself in military desertion, unrest over food shortages and inflation, general war weariness, and expedient relocations to the North or to Europe by profit-minded entrepreneurs whose sectional loyalties were at best fluid.
—Clarence Mohr, Journal of the Civil War Era
This fine book reminds us that war means chaos. . . . Using original research in newspapers, diaries, and archival government records, Venet shows how the war disrupted the lives of a diverse group of people—blacks and whites, men and women, adults and children, secessionists and unionists.
—Mark Wilson, Society of Civil War Historians Newsletter
This deeply researched, informative book provides a panorama of Civil War Atlanta, one admirable for the author’s inclusiveness and marshaling of telling details.
—Elizabeth R. Varon, Civil War History
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
The author pays attention to all of the city's population, and does an excellent job describing the changes of the city over time.
—I. Cohen, Choice
A lively and fascinating portrait of the people who laid the groundwork for the New South in Atlanta. It is a worthy addition to the scholarship on the urban South.
—Mary A. DeCredico, Journal of Southern History
A well-researched and well-written account of how Atlanta rose, fell, and rose yet again. The book should especially appeal to those readers who are interested in how the Civil War affected urban life in the South.
—Roger D. Cunningham, Journal of America's Military Past
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.
—Civil War Monitor