Mahin, Dean B. 1925-

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Mahin, Dean B. 1925-

PERSONAL:

Born 1925. Education: B.A., M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Charlotte, NC.

CAREER:

Has worked for about forty years in the U.S. Department of State and for federal information and foreign assistance agencies.

WRITINGS:

Soviet Russia: A Guidebook for Tourists, Governmental Affairs Institute (Washington, DC), 1959.

Olive Branch and Sword: The United States and Mexico, 1845-1848, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1997.

One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, Brassey (Washington, DC), 1999.

The Blessed Place of Freedom: Europeans in Civil War America, Brassey (Washington, DC), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

Having worked for decades with the U.S. Department of State and federal agencies concerning international affairs, Dean B. Mahin applied his interest and experience in this area to two books concerning the Civil War: One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the American Civil War and The Blessed Place of Freedom: Europeans in Civil War America. In the former, the author explores how both the Union and Confederacy related politically to Mexico, Canada, England, and European nations during the war, as well as offering some postwar analysis. Unfortunately, according to Judith Anne Fenner Gentry in the Journal of Southern History, the book contains "serious errors of fact and does not provide citations for much of the text," and it fails "to utilize important studies" as resources. Thus, although the critic felt the book contains an "impressive array of printed primary sources" it "has not presented sufficient evidence for its interesting thesis."

In The Blessed Place of Freedom, Mahin endeavors to explain the influence of different ethnic groups in America who fought in the Civil War and to describe their unique experiences within it. Including twenty-five chapters that discuss each of the groups Mahin feels are significant, the "structure makes this a useful reference source," according to Adam I.P. Smith in the Journal of Southern History. Smith, however, felt that this "encyclopedic approach" results in a glossing over of some important divisions, such as the cultural differences between Catholic and Protestant Irishmen, and Welshmen versus other groups from Britain. "Nor, in any case, is it always clear why and how an individual's country of origin matters," stated Smith, "or how it relates to other sources of identity such as class or religion. In some cases the identification of ‘national’ groups can obscure as much as it illuminates." Christian B. Keller, writing in the Journal of Military History, summarized Mahin's book as being "admittedly the best book yet" on the subject, but one that does not "critically address and/or contribute to the scholarly debate about ethnics in the Civil War." Smith concluded: "Mahin's work … sets out an intriguing set of questions, even if it does not always answer them fully."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Journal of Military History, October, 2003, Christian B. Keller, review of The Blessed Place of Freedom: Europeans in Civil War America, pp. 1297-1299.

Journal of Southern History, August, 2001, Judith Anne Fenner Gentry, review of One War at a Time: The International Dimensions of the American Civil War, p. 679; February, 2004, Adam I.P. Smith, review of The Blessed Place of Freedom, p. 156.