ABOUT THIS BOOK
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize
Winner of the Sharon Harris Book Award
Finalist, Jefferson Davis Award of the American Civil War Museum
Arlington National Cemetery is one of America’s most sacred shrines, a destination for millions who tour its grounds to honor the men and women of the armed forces who serve and sacrifice. It commemorates their heroism, yet it has always been a place of struggle over the meaning of honor and love of country. Once a showcase plantation, Arlington was transformed by the Civil War, first into a settlement for the once enslaved, and then into a memorial for Union dead. Later wars broadened its significance, as did the creation of its iconic monument to universal military sacrifice: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As Arlington took its place at the center of the American story, inclusion within its gates became a prerequisite for claims to national belonging. This deeply moving book reminds us that many brave patriots who fought for America abroad struggled to be recognized at home, and that remembering the past and reckoning with it do not always go hand in hand.
“Perhaps it is cliché to observe that in the cities of the dead we find meaning for the living. But, as McElya has so gracefully shown, such a cliché is certainly fitting of Arlington.”
—American Historical Review
“A wonderful history of Arlington National Cemetery, detailing the political and emotional background to this high-profile burial ground.”