Mary Chesnut's Diary

Mary Boykin Chesnut (Author) Catherine Clinton (Introduction by)


An unrivalled account of the American Civil War from the Confederate perspective.

One of the most compelling personal narratives of the Civil War, Mary Chesnut's Diary was written between 1861 and 1865. As the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and the wife of an aide to the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, Chesnut was well acquainted with the Confederacy's prominent players and-from the very first shots in Charleston, South Carolina-diligently recorded her impressions of the conflict's most significant moments. One of the most frequently cited memoirs of the war, Mary Chesnut's Diary captures the urgency and nuance of the period in an epic rich with commentary on race, status, and power within a nation divided.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

$18.00  $16.56
Penguin Group
Publish Date
April 26, 2011
5.2 X 0.9 X 7.8 inches | 0.56 pounds

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About the Author

Mary Boykin Chesnut (1823-1886) was born into a wealthy South Carolina family. Her father, Stephen Decatur Miller, was a senator who supported states' rights and the legalization of slavery. She married James Chestnut in 1840 and they moved to Camden, New Jersey. Her husband later became a US senator but in 1860, after Abraham Lincoln was elected, he resigned his position. The couple relocated to North Carolina during the Civil War, and Mary recorded her thoughts in a diary that would be published in full after her death.

Catherine Clinton was born in Seattle and grew up in Kansas City. She is the Denman Professor of American History at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is an international research professor at Queen's University Belfast. She has served on several faculties in her more than thirty years of teaching, including the University of Benghazi, Harvard University, and the Citadel (the Military College of South Carolina). She is the author and editor of more than two dozen volumes, including The Plantation Mistress, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, and edits her own series for Oxford University Press: Viewpoints on American Culture. She has served as a consultant on several film projects, including Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012). An elected member of the Society of American Historians, she remains a lifetime member of both the Lincoln Forum and the Southern Association for Women Historians.


"[Mary Boykin Chesnut's] take on the Civil War, the run-up to it, and the nation's eventual collapse into the chaos of war, are profound and insightful. There's much to be learned from her thoughts--even today."
--James McBride, author of The Good Lord Bird and Deacon King Kong