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“Southerners are very strange about that war,” Shelby Foote once said, providing the epigraph for Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches From the Unfinished Civil War, a masterly account of people who’ve made the Lost Cause their obsession, and, in some cases, their life’s mission. A senior writer for the Wall Street Journal and lapsed Civil War buff, Horwitz caught the bug again when he moved to the Blue Ridge. He writes sympathetic portraits of Dixie eccentrics who would make easy pickings for any two-bit satirist, but Horwitz instead shows that the roots of their obsession are as complicated, if not as profound, as the myriad reasons why the Blue and the Gray fought in the first place. The book’s hero is hard-core re-enactor Robert Lee Hodge, the “Marlon Brando of battlefield bloating,” who takes incredible pains for authenticity—down to sleeping out in rainstorms and cooking blackened pork with his bayonet. “Get some rest,” Hodge tells Horwitz as they encamp in the Virginia countryside near the cottage where Stonewall Jackson died. “Tomorrow we’ve got to do Jeb Stuart’s death, plus Richmond and the rest of ’64.” Horwitz reads at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Eddie Dean)