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Edward L. Ayers

Edward L. Ayers is an American historian and the ninth president of the University of Richmond.  His book In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1864 won the Bancroft Prize in 2004.


A Southern Chronicle

Spring 2000 | Essays

Since the founding of The Virginia Quarterly Review, one topic has turned up again and again: the journal’s native region. The culture, economy, past, and future of the American South have presented the Review with a constantly changing and yet stubbornly persistent set of anxieties and hopes. To survey the essays on the South that have appeared in these pages is to survey much of the region's history in the 20th century.

The Heart of American History

Autumn 1989 | Criticism

The era of the Civil War and Reconstruction remains the crucible of American history, the trial that decisively defined this country and its self-perceived mission. The American people seem to recognize that fact, for no era in our history attracts the general reading public as does that between 1861 and 1877.

Everyman As Master

Summer 1987 | Essays

Even now, after a century and hundreds of studies, we can draw no coherent picture of the slaveholders of the Old South. Instead, our images are kaleidoscopic, fragmentary, contradictory. These men appear, alternately, as tyrannical and aristocratic, violent and urbane, corrupt and high-minded. Most of all, they seem exaggerated, outsized, ill-proportioned.