Books: 1861-65, Unexpurgated

A DIARY FROM DIXIE (572 pp.)—Mary Boykin Chesnut—Edited by Ben Ames Williams—Houghton Mifflin ($5).

Mrs. James Chesnut was 38 when the Civil War began. Highbred and lively, daughter of a governor of South Carolina and wife of a Confederate Senator, she was the sort of Charleston hostess to whom Jefferson Davis, Stephen Mallory, Alexander Stephens, Robert Toombs and other pillars of the Confederacy told state secrets.

When Lincoln was inaugurated, Mrs. Chesnut began to keep a journal. After the war she transcribed her jottings, found that they filled 50 notebooks. At her death in 1886 she left them to a girlhood friend,...

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