I have often said (tongue-in-cheek) that everything I need to know, I learned from Gone with the Wind! For people who think that the movie is too long and too boring, I always try to persuade them to actually read the book! Scarlett was a self sentered airhead in many ways, but she was also a doggedly loyal woman who gave up everything to fight for her family. That only comes out when you actually take the time to really delve into the book.
On a side note, the historical information regarding the Civil War, the various battles and the mood of the Old South is well researched and is probably more accurate than many history textbooks being used across America today!
Contrary to Mitchell's contention that the old families were destroyed by the War, their places being taken by adventurers like Rhett Butler and trash like the Slatterys, the majority of the old families bounced back and recovered their fortunes.
Some died out or were killed in the War, of course, and some left no male descendants and so married into other families. But if you look at the actual records (land records, tax records, wills, guardianships, trusts, etc.) you find that the same families by and large owned the land and paid the taxes in the 1870s and 1880s as did in the 1850s and 1860s.
My theory is that industrialization, especially the railroad, did a whole lot more to change things than the War. Historian Eugene Genovese, no conservative (he was actually a Communist) posited that slavery would have fallen of its own weight as a result.
It's true now as it was then -- prosperous people keep on doing the things that make them prosperous, and poor people keep on doing the things that make them poor. If you took all the money away and started over, in a few years everybody would be right back where they were when you took it. And so it was after the War. One gg grandfather had nothing left but an old blind mule, but when he died in the 1920s he was once again a wealthy man. Another gg grandfather was a lawyer and banker before the war, but since there was no money and no litigation he drove a delivery wagon using two of his artillery horses for a few years. But when he died in 1917 he was once again a lawyer and a banker.
I don’t agree with the sentiments Mitchell expressed in her book, but you’re correct, the book is much more interesting than the movie. Whatever political sentiment she expressed, she could tell a good story. However, I could never stand to watch the movie for more than ten minutes at a time. Sleep inducing.