Coski, John M.
Coski, John M.
Office—Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library, Museum of the Confederacy, 1201 E. Clay St., Richmond, VA 23219; fax: 804-644-7150. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, historian. Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA, director of the Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library and historian.
The Army of the Potomac at Berkeley Plantation: The Harrison's Landing Occupation of 1862, J.M. Coski (Richmond, VA), 1989.
Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron, Savas Woodbury Publishers (Campbell, CA), 1996.
The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem, Belknap Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
John M. Coski is a Civil War historian and the director of the Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library of the Museum of the Confederacy. The library contains some 15,000 books, 1,000 prints, a collection of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's correspondence, and official records pertaining to the Confederate army, navy, and government.
In Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron, Coski examines the role played by the Confederate navy on Virginia's James River and what effect their efforts had on the outcome of the war. A reviewer for Small Press Bookwatch called the study a "well-researched and smoothly narrated history."
In his book The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem, Coski examines today's controversy over displaying the Confederate flag. Originally a symbol of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, the flag's design has been incorporated into state flags throughout the South for both historical reasons and as a matter of pride. But the flag has also become, in some circles, a symbol of the resistance against racial integration. As such, its display in any form has drawn protest from some quarters. Both supporters and opponents of the flag have strong feelings about whether it is or is not displayed. Coski examines the controversy from a neutral position. He believes that both sides have misrepresented the flag's historical meaning and advocates a more balanced approach to its display. "Coski has produced a fascinating work delivered with a remarkable absence of passion involving a topic that generates seemingly little else," according to Robert D. Sampson in a review on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. Coski details the ongoing controversy "with admirable clarity and fair-mindedness," Robert Cook wrote in the Journal of Southern History. Cook added: "Coski has written the first full published assessment of the changing role played by the Confederate battle flag in American history. It is a thoughtful, methodical account." Felix Gillette in the New York Sun stated: "In his comprehensive new book, … John M. Coski chronicles the rich history of the so-called second American flag. Throughout, Mr. Coski, who is a historian and library director at the Museum of the Confederacy, offers an ‘explicitly relativist’ approach that attempts to validate the flag's various interpretations." The Confederate Battle Flag "is exceptionally well-researched but also accessible," Kevin Matthews wrote in History: Review of New Books, "making it a book for the specialist and the general reader alike."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
History: Review of New Books, summer, 2005, Kevin Matthews, review of The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem, p. 132.
Journal of American Culture, June, 2007, Daniel S. Margolies, review of The Confederate Battle Flag, pp. 261-263.
Journal of Southern History, August, 2006, Robert Cook, review of The Confederate Battle Flag, p. 671.
Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Grant A. Frederickson, review of The Confederate Battle Flag, p. 107.
New York Sun, March 14, 2005, Felix Gillette, review of The Confederate Battle Flag.
New York Times Book Review, April 3, 2005, Diane McWhorter, review of The Confederate Battle Flag, p. 20; June 25, 2006, Ihsan Taylor, review of The Confederate Battle Flag, p. 24.
Small Press Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron.
Weekly Standard, May 2, 2005, Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., review of The Confederate Battle Flag, p. 35.
Harvard University Press Web site,http://www.hup.harvard.edu/ (June 14, 2008), author profile.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July, 2006), Robert D. Sampson, review of The Confederate Battle Flag.
Museum of the Confederacy Web site,http://www.moc.org/ (May 14, 2008).