Tony Horwitz shares his perspectives on the Civil War
On Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s starting date, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Horwitz talked about his work and the Civil War at USC’s Lumpkin Auditorium.
Horwitz, a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, covered wars and conflicts in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.
“I think he has a very interesting perspective on the Civil War,” said Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Fitzpatrick said that Horwitz came to USC as part of the annual Townsend Lecture on southern culture.
Horwitz has also written books, four of which have become bestsellers.
One of those books, Confederates in the Attic, was one of Horwitz’s main points for the discussion. The book covered Civil War reenactments, national parks and monuments that he experienced while searching for people still “held in thrall by America’s greatest conflict,” according to his website.
“It’s fundamentally a journalistic book mainly about how people absorb history, as in how are real people using this stuff,” Horwitz said. “I don’t present myself as a historian. I’m just passing through it.”
Horwitz held the discussion with Walter Edgar, a history professor and head of the institute of Southern Studies. Edgar directed the lecture by asking Horwitz questions about his work.
Edgar asked Horwitz about his writing mechanics and Horwitz said, “It’s nothing exciting.”
“People have a romantic sense of writing having that aura and possibly some caffeine. I don’t know anyone like that. It’s like any other job,” he said.
Horwitz also said that he sometimes misses reporting, but that feeling passes.
“Three-fourths of the work is getting there. Going to Libya and dealing with all that is too much,” he said.
During the question-and-answer session, he was asked about the Republicans and Democrats always disagreeing in government. Horwitz responded that it is fascinating to see nobody listening to anybody.
“We’re all turning in to our own echo chamber where we hear what we want to hear,” he said. “As an old-school journalist trained on the basis of objectivity, I hope that we can all agree on some facts at least.”