Daughter of the Lost Cause is the poignant story of Winnie Davis, one of the last casualties of the Civil War Jefferson Davis s youngest daughter was destined by birth to carry the torch of the Confederacy It was an obligation she never asked for but could never refuse She had the then modern advantage of an education in Europe, which gave her the intellectual tools and the ambition to break free from a domineering mother and a cosseted upbringing in the defeated south But her willingness to be the handsome, poised, dutiful daughter of the Confederacy s first family instead turned her into the living symbol of an antebellum way of life that she had never known Heath Lee tells this tale with simple elegance and matter of fact sensitivity She makes you understand that neither of Winnie s two worlds the languor of the Mississippi Gulf Coast or the hustle of downtown New York would ever bring her peace Guy Gugliotta, author of Freedom s CapWinnie Davis Daughter of the Lost Cause A very well written and well researched biography that is also extremely readable and entertaining A fascinating look at Jefferson Davis tragic family and an exploration of the post war south through the life of his daughter Winnie I did not think that there were stories to tell about this era, but Heath Hardage Lee has found some Highly recommend. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway This fascinating biography deals with the life of Winnie Davis, the youngest daughter of Jefferson and Varina Davis After the War Between the States, many who had supported the Confederacy tried to make Winnie a symbol of enduring Southern virtues While her life was lived out not as a symbol, but as a human being, the War overshadowed everything she did Her role as The Daughter of the Confederacy had a profound impact on her major life decisions, at times causing her to make excruciating sacrifices This book contains a few errors in editing, for example, Winnie s brother Joe is referred to as Joe, Jr a few times near the beginning of the book, and there is at least one missing period at the end of a sentence A few sentences were confusing to me Also, Lee tends to repeat herself at times, and venture into speculation about the motives of Winnie and the other people she writes about All in all, though, a well written and interesting book. This book is the first biography of Varina Anne Winnie Davis, the youngest child of Confederate president Jefferson Davis Born at the end of the Civil War, Winnie eventually became a living symbol of the Southern wife and family for defeated Confederates Although highly educated in Germany and very publicly engaged, Winnie died young and single Winnie was the sixth and youngest child of Jefferson Davis and his second wife Varina Jefferson s first wife died tragically just months after their marriage, and Jefferson is said to have never completely recovered from this loss Jefferson and his second wife Varina lost their first child, Samuel as a baby By the time Winnie was born the family had expanded from the loss of their first child to include Margaret, Jeff Jr., Joseph, and William Tragically, just months before Winnie was born in 1864, young Joe fell from a balcony of the executive mansion in Richmond to his death Thus Winnie was born and raised in both a home and a community of mourning of personal loss and also the loss of the war More tragedy was to come all four of the Davis sons would die young, leaving Jefferson and Varina with only Margaret and Winnie to carry on the family legacy Winnie was raised with an emphasis on piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity Personal sacrifice was applauded and Winnie sought approval through attempting to meet these ideals At the age of thirteen, Winnie was sent to an austere boarding school in Germany Although initially very homesick, Winnie eventually assimilated very fully into the European culture By the completion of her schooling, Winnie had become fluent in German and French, knowledgeable about European history, and particularly well versed in German literature and history All this in addition to her notable skills in painting, writing, and music earned her a deserved reputation as one of the most cultured women of her time 68 After her return home, she gradually became her father s traveling companion, secretary, and literary assistant Through attending events with her father, she became famous in her own right and was presented at public events as the Daughter of the Confederacy, a symbol of redemption to the defeated soldiers Winnie eventually met and fell in love with Alfred Fred Wilkinson, a young lawyer from New York Once the news of their engagement became public, Winnie s family received public outcry over her engagement to a Northerner with an abolitionist grandfather Winnie, always anxious to please, suffered from depression, anxiety, and anorexia, and was greatly troubled by this feedback Over time, her mother also turned against the marriage and Winnie ultimately called off the engagement Neither Winnie or Fred ever married Winnie s final years, before her death in her early 30s, were filled with Confederate events and scraping together a living through literary pursuits Winnie and her mother moved to New York City, another unpopular move in the eyes of the South After being caught in the rain and a short illness, Winnie died The actual cause of her death is still unknown, although Winnie does appear to have had many health complaints throughout her life I was instantly drawn to this book because I love biographies of historical figures, particularly ones who are lesser known I was even excited to learn that the author is a fellow graduate of Davidson College This was a well written and well researched book that sheds light on Winnie as a woman bound to a cause she didn t necessarily choose and which ultimately and mostly inadvertently became her life s work I do wonder what Winnie s true feelings towards the Southern cause were She clearly seems to have identified with European and Northern sentiments Although much of her correspondence has been destroyed, I wonder how much of her role of Daughter of the Confederacy was done out of love and loyalty to her family and how much out of personal conviction. Heath Hardage Lee deserves five stars for being the first scholar to unearth and tell this fascinating story It boggles the mind that it took so long for Winnie to earn her own biography The book deserves another five stars for being a wonderfully written and powerful read. I picked this up at Chop Suey Books probably my favorite indie book shop on Cary Street in Richmond Hadn t heard of it but it was on the front tableread it in one big gulp Interesting stuff, compellingly written Shout out to Wonton the cat Varina Anne Winnie Davis Was Born Into A War Torn South In June Of , The Youngest Daughter Of Confederate President Jefferson Davis And His Second Wife, Varina Howell Davis Born Only A Month After The Death Of Beloved Confederate Hero General JEB Stuart During A String Of Confederate Victories, Winnie S Birth Was Hailed As A Blessing By War Weary Southerners They Felt Her Arrival Was A Good Omen Signifying Future Victory But After The Confederacy S Ultimate Defeat In The Civil War, Winnie Would Spend Her Early Life As A Genteel Refugee And An Expatriate Abroad After Returning To The South From German Boarding School, Winnie Was Christened The Daughter Of The Confederacy In This Role Was Bestowed Upon Her By A Southern Culture Trying To Sublimate Its War Losses Particularly Idolized By Confederate Veterans And The United Daughters Of The Confederacy, Winnie Became An Icon Of The Lost Cause, Eclipsing Even Her Father Jefferson In PopularityWinnie Davis Daughter Of The Lost Cause Is The First Published Biography Of This Little Known Woman Who Unwittingly Became The Symbolic Female Figure Of The Defeated South Her Controversial Engagement In To A Northerner Lawyer Whose Grandfather Was A Famous Abolitionist, And Her Later Move To Work As A Writer In New York City, Shocked Her Friends, Family, And The Southern Groups Who Worshipped Her Faced With The Pressures Of A Community Who Violently Rejected The Match, Winnie Desperately Attempted To Reconcile Her Prominent Old South History With Her Personal Desire For Tolerance And Acceptance Of Her Personal Choices heath does justice to this interesting woman and defines the Davis family exquisitely What a snooze fest Book club selection Really awful writing, bad editing and a boring subject Read like a poorly written masters thesis. Well researched and well written biography of Winnie Davis, youngest child of Jefferson and Varina Davis, born in 1864 and adopted by citizens of the Confederacy and ultimately by veterans of the Confederacy and United Daughters of the Confederacy as a symbol of a mythologized Confederate culture.The book explores the information that is available about Winnie and her relationship to her parents and siblings She ultimately is a tragic figure, a captive to the people who idolize her and the culture she represents to them , and to her parents emotional needs and controlling interests in her life She died at the age of 34, after developing a brief career as a writer The author deftly explores the contradictions in Winnie s personality and life For example, she spent of her formative years in Germany than in the South She attended a German boarding school, developing her intellect, artistic talent and independence Yet, as a young adult recently returned to the U.S., she became an icon of a dependent, dutiful, pure Southern Confederate daughter and spent much of her early adult life at public appearances cultivating that persona This book is a good read for anyone interested in detail about the Jefferson Davis family, the evolution of the Confederate movement post Civil War, and the role of women in society in the U.S post Civil War.