Civil War Photo Contest
Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
It seems to me nothing's more important than SOURCES when trying to have an intelligent conversation or discussion; how exasperating it is to hear "But I heard on The History Channel..."! Researching this particular topic on my own favorite source, Amazon, I was struck by the large number of works I'd never seen before, since most of my reading was in the "Dark Ages" around the time beginning with the Civil War Centennial of the 1960's and continuing through my college and early adult years, now longer ago than I like to admit! Please excuse me then, if this list is "heavy" on Classics like that pictured above, and "light" on more recent works - in fact I heartily encourage readers to submit any titles, new or old, they feel would be good additions to this thread.
I propose to break this up into at least five major categories: general biographical works; "military biographies" exclusively considering Jackson's place as a "Great Commander"; memoirs and reminiscances of those who either knew or served under him; paritcular campaign or battle studies in which he played a major role; and a miscellany of other Jackson-related topics. Since this particular forum is personality-based ( and a single very strong personality at that! ), the first category should be that of biography:
General Biographical Studies
Since its appearance in 1997, James I. Robertson, Jr.'s Stonewall Jackson - The Man, The Soldier, The Legend has set the standard by which all others must be measured. This is in no way a "quick read" at 762 pages of text ( plus another 125 pages or so of readable notes! ), so I don't recommend it to anyone looking for an overview of the General or his career; but for those really wishing to understand or "get inside" the subject, it's simply the best and not likely to be surpassed anytime soon if ever! I had the pleasure of attending one of Dr. Robertson's CW Roundtable talks on Jackson about ten years ago and found him to be as knowledgeable and lively in person as he is on paper. If there is a fault in this, it's the same fault as in the classic studies by fellow Virginian Douglas Southall Freeman in his George Washington, R. E. Lee, and Lee's Lieutenants, that of identifying, sympathizing, and empathizing perhaps a bit TOO closely with his subject.
Other noteworthy biographies of Jackson include the vastly reader-friendly They Called Him Stonewall by another Virginian, Burke Davis, who made a career of writing about the lives of other famous citizens of his state: Gray Fox ( R. E. Lee ), Jeb Stuart - The Last Cavalier, and George Washington and the American Revolution. Davis sticks to the well-known and most important features of the careers of his subjects in a lively manner that flows along in books of average length that I highly recommend. I must confess I have never read another of the standards of that era, Frank Vandiver's Mighty Stonewall, despite the fact he was briefly President of my Alma Mater! ( Being an essentially lazy collegian, I tended to shy away from its bulk; anyone who can comment on its worthiness to appear here, please feel free to do so! ) Two other intriguing-looking relative newcomers I saw on Amazon are the recent Stonewall Jackson: A Biography by Ethan S. Rafuse Ph.D. and Stonewall - A Biography of Gen. Thomas J. Jackson by Byron Farwell; anyone having personal knowledge of either of these, please let us know about them. Of course this only includes an important few of the many biographical titles available; next time, I will list some of the purely military studies.
( Disclaimer - the particular volumes pictured herein may be of editions no longer available; the titles themselves are all currently listed on Amazon, however. )