The author of two histories of his hometown, Charleston, S.C., Rosen has done yeoman's work in gathering together the stories of scores of Confederate loyalists, not just oft-portrayed public figures like Florida's David Yulee and Louisiana's Judah P. Benjamin but also those who might otherwise be remembered only by their families or in local, synagogue histories.
Rebel patriots like these, Rosen shows, were the norm, with the South's 25,000 Jews at the time -- especially in cities like Charleston, Savannah, and Richmond with an ''acculturated and assimilated Jewish elite'' -- willing to scrap tooth and nail against Yankee invaders. As Rabbi James Gutheim of New Orleans, at a dedication ceremony for a Montgomery, Ala., synagogue, prayed for his ''beloved country, the Confederate States of America'' in 1862: ''Behold, O God, and judge between us and our enemies, who have forced upon us this unholy and unnatural war -- who hurl against us their poisoned arrows steeped in ambition and revenge.''
However, this is not a book about the home front; it is a book about the battlefield. Sometimes inconsistent as social analysis, ''The Jewish Confederates'' works best as a kind of living diorama. On its revolving picturescape turn the romantic and callow youths, rifles at their sides, Stars of David around their necks, and the, yes, inspiring Confederate battle flag fluttering overhead. (source: The New York Times)