Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings.

Attend the dinner and presentation, or just the presentation.

Recordings of many of the meetings are available for a small charge, click here for a printable list of Recorded Meetings

We meet September through June, generally on the second Friday evening of each month. See list of meeting dates and speakers below for our 2014-2015 program year.

Our meetings take place at the Mart Plaza Holiday Inn, 350 N. Orleans Street, Chicago, IL 60654. Validated hotel parking is $12.
Click here for a map and directions to the Holiday Inn

5:30 pm Cash Bar, 6:30 pm Dinner, 7:30 pm Presentation

Dinner/Presentation is $49 per person – There is always a choice of entrée. (Entrée options are listed below.) Make checks payable to "The Civil War Round Table".
Presentation only is $10 per person. Payable at the door, cash or check. Be there by 7:15.
Please make your reservation in advance by contacting us at (630)460-1865 or DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org.

Dinner reservations should be received by Wednesday evening prior to the meeting. When you make your dinner reservation, please be sure to indicate your entrée choice.
Presentation only reservations are appreciated but not required to attend.

September 12, 2014

Varney Frank Varney on:
“General Grant and the Rewriting of History“

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (1885) is considered a classic of American literature. Many judge it the greatest book ever written by a former U. S. President. Mark Twain, for one, declares of the Memoirs: “Their style is at least flawless and no man can improve upon it.” Now, Twain was not a disinterested party, being the book’s publisher. But his praise has been echoed by others. Historian Bruce Catton, for instance, observed that: “the book itself has a glow and shine…”

Ironically, this praise is offered to the memoirs of a president perhaps least known for his intellectual powers.

However, while the prose and narrative flow of Grant’s memoirs earns near unanimous approval, historian Frank Varney has challenged the book’s value as history.

“The shame is that Grant shaped history,” explains Varney in his controversial new book, General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War. “[I]t is his version of the story, and not the truth, which has become the accepted account.” By taking Grant’s word for the matter instead of checking other sources, he later says, historians “have allowed one man’s personal agenda to dictate how history is written.”

“As important as Grant’s Memoirs are,” Varney contends, “there is much more to know and to understand—-and, I would argue-—errors to correct, prejudices to overcome, and distortions to be balanced.”

And with that, Varney sets off on a quest to do just that, using Grant’s treatment of Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans as a case study. Varney uses the written record other than Grant to demonstrate that, as always, there is more than one side to the story.

Frank Varney earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University. He regularly leads student groups to Civil War battlefields and makes frequent speaking appearances before Civil War Roundtables and historical societies. Professor Varney is currently developing a course to be taught on-site at Gettysburg, and will do the same for a course on Chickamauga. He teaches U.S. and classical history at Dickinson State University of North Dakota, where he is also the director of the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program.

Entrée choices are:
Sliced Raost Sirloin
Baked Salmon Teriyaki

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For our 2014-15 program year, we proudly welcome these outstanding speakers:

Sept. 12th
Frank Varney
on General Grant and the Rewriting of History

Oct. 10th
Mark Bradley
on Joe Hooker, O. O. Howard, and the Atlanta Campaign of 1864

Nov. 14th
Steve Towne
on How Army Intelligence Foiled Confederate Plots in Chicago

Dec. 10th
Jim Ogden
Nevins-Freeman Address

Jan. 9th, 2015
John Horn
on George Barnard and the 12th Virginia Infantry

Feb. 13th
Leslie Goddard
on Gone With the Wind and the Construction of Civil War Memory

Mar. 13th
Tom Huntington
on Searching for George Gordon Meade

Apr. 14th
Michael Burlingame
on The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

May 8th
Eric Leonard
on Cartel, Code, and Consequences at Andersonville

June 12th
Gary Adelman
4D Civil War Photography Extravaganza

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