In memory of a book project from which i pulled the following text and others

In a car park near Los Angeles, a group of men reenact key battles from the civil war every weekend. The event started out very small, with only a few people who met online reconstructing the battles as best they could with the limited pool of resources and people they could bring together. But as the weeks went by, the events became more popular. Soon large crowds were gathered to watch the battle. At first they were respectful, even academic in their appreciation, noting the fidelity with which the performers documented and performed the historical scenarios, but as the weeks went by, there was a change. People began to bring beer and drugs. The crowds began to take sides, cheering the North or the South as the actors fought. Then, someone had the idea that it might be more interesting if people could be allowed to bet on the outcome of the reenactments. The actors objected, noting that everyone knew the outcome of the battles. One of the businessmen behind the betting venture said “I wouldn’t be so sure of that”. The performers, the men in the battles all considered themselves to be performers now, only agreed when the investors offered to provide them with a percentage of the profits from the bets. The betting lasted for months and everyone made good money. One week, during a reenactment of the battle of Mill Springs, the actor playing Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer refused to die when the actor playing Colonel Speed Fry shot him. No one knew what to do. But after a few moments, the battle of Mill Springs continued, and eventually Felix Zollicoffer was killed. Throughout the following week, the actors were locked in disputes with each other. Some felt it was important to stick to the narrative of the original Civil War, others felt like the new, speculative Civil War was a more interesting idea. Eventually, most agreed to turn up the following week to fight a new battle. They agreed that they would fight the Battle of Champion Hill. The battle went according to the agreed historical record until one point when a Confederate soldier stood aside from the battle to sing a hit pop song that everyone in the crowd knew and which, the actor later explained, he felt was so indicative of the emotions that a Confederate soldier would have felt on the occasion of losing the last major stronghold and retreating to certain defeat, that the song was psychologically, if not historically accurate. This incident caused serious soul-searching in the actors’ forums the following week. Many of the more historically-minded actors quit in disgust. This created openings, however, in the cast, and so the more entertainment-minded actors auditioned new soldiers and generals. By the following week, when the Battle of Bull Run was enacted, the crowd cheered when, in a stunning coup de theatre, a popular, if somewhat forgotten, actor from a 1990s sitcom appeared to announce that he’d be joining the cast next week and that the War would have a more comic interpretation as things went on. After that the Civil War became much more popular, even attracting sponsors and syndication contracts from Italian television channels. It was true that the purists who began the war objected and were marginalised, but in the end, almost everyone else agreed that this format was both more entertaining and more sustainable.