Civil War Books- Recommended Reads

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Madam W

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All, I suggest if you enjoy reading Civil War stories try "The Liberty Legion" by Walter Coffey. It is historical fiction and a great read. In fact, it won honorable mention for Book of The Year 2004 by Foreword Magazine. The sequel to the book was just released called "Redemption In The Field". And let me tell you it did not disappoint.:thumbsup:
 

cpl_lewis

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I, personally think, "Confederates in the Attic" was a great read... also if you're interested in it " They Fought Like Demons- Women Soldiers of the Civil War" was also very interesting and a favorite topic of mine.
 

FSPowers

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I read "Confederates in the Attic" a couple of months ago. I don't think I can become one of those "hardcore" reenactors.

My personal favorites include, "Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage" by Trudeau and the Civil War Centennial Series by Catton.
 
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hoosier

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Madam W, thanks for your recommendation and welcome to CivilWarTalk.

There are a number of different message boards here on the site. If you have any other book recommendations for us, you might want to post them on the "Book and Movie Review Tent" board, which is where most of our members will look for that sort of post.

Also, please pop down to the "New Recruits Meet and Greet Area" board and let everybody know you're here.
 

MKotyk

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In the realm of historical fiction, I recommend the following:

"The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
"Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure" by Jeff Shaara
"Shiloh" by Shelby Foote
"The Court Martial of Robert E. Lee" - forgot the author.

Mike
 
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matthew mckeon

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A couple of book that I have really enjoyed are "To Play for a Kingdom" because it has zouaves and baseball, and a unique novel from the 1860s, "Miss Ravenal's Conversion"
a surprisingly frank and graphic book for the period.
 

mobile_96

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Matthew,
Is the complete title:
"Miss Ravenel's Conversion From Secession to Loyalty" published in 1867?
Chuck in IL.
 
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bschulte

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There are tons of good Civil War books out there, but you can't go wrong with these authors (book subjects in parentheses):

Peter Cozzens (Chickamauga, Stones' River, Chattanooga, Corinth & Iuka)
Ed Bearss (Vicksburg Campaign in 3 volumes, Wilson's Creek, numerous others)
Harry Pfanz (numerous books on Gettysburg)
Gary Gallagher (editor of large number of essay books on Eastern Battles)
Robert K. Krick (Cedar Mountain, Port Republic/Cross Keys, numerous others)
Robert E.L. Krick (a lot of articles and essays in magazines and Gallagher's Essay series of books)
Kenneth Hafendorfer (many Kentucky Battles, including Perryville, Mill Springs, and Richmond)
Kenneth Noe (Perryville)
Mark Bradley (Bentonville)
Gordon Rhea (Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, North Anna)
...and others which I've forgotten who I'm sure will come to me long after I've written this post! :smile:
 

JohnW in E.TN

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I recently enjoyed, "Lee: The Last Years," by Charles Bracelen Flood.

One thing I learned from Flood's book is that Lee's great accomplishments were not only confined to the War. As President of Washington College, he designed and implemented a liberal arts style curriculum that is still in use in colleges today. Rather than the old style pre-war classical education, Lee knew that the young men of the post-war South would need a more practical education that they could utilize in their daily lives, and that this would help in the rebuilding of the region. Few people realize that Robert E. Lee made such great strides in education.


John W.
 

matthew mckeon

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In reply to mobile96's #9, yes that's the one "Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty" I like it for a bunch of reasons:
It is practically contemporary with the war.

It deals with illegal cotton trade, the freedmen and the New Orleans, Red River campaigns, which are underappreciated IMO.

It has some great characters: the heroic, yet corrupt Union officer, his amoral mistress, and others.

It also has some good battle scenes, surprisingly graphic for the time. One confusing night time skimish, seen thorough the eyes of a frightened civilian, was both funny and brutal.

It's not perfect, written by an former Union officer, its a one sided view of the war.
The hero's irritated aside at the end of the book, when he acknowledges the bravery of the Confederates is unusual.
 
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samgrant

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I've recently tried some Cw era 'historical fiction'. Gore Vidal's 'Lincoln' was very interesting and entertaining and a quick read at only 657 pages. Now I've started something in a similar vein: 'Freedom' by William Safire. Both focus on Lincoln, his cabinent, and the various politicos and conspirators of the time and there is little of the battlefield in these books. 'Freedom' weighs in at 974 pages, plus another 100+ pages of 'Sources and Commentary' which explain the factual basis, chapter by chapter, from which the actions and dialogue of the novel are drawn. (And this book only covers the start of the war thru the Emancipation Proclamation!) Interesting.
 

JohnW in E.TN

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samgrant said:
I've recently tried some Cw era 'historical fiction'. Gore Vidal's 'Lincoln' was very interesting and entertaining and a quick read at only 657 pages. Now I've started something in a similar vein: 'Freedom' by William Safire. Both focus on Lincoln, his cabinent, and the various politicos and conspirators of the time and there is little of the battlefield in these books. 'Freedom' weighs in at 974 pages, plus another 100+ pages of 'Sources and Commentary' which explain the factual basis, chapter by chapter, from which the actions and dialogue of the novel are drawn. Interesting.



I read "Freedom" a few years back and I remember it to be excellent. :thumbsup:

John W.
 

mobile_96

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Matthew,
Thanks for the confirmation on the title. Wanted to make sure it was the right one before I started reading the free online copy I found last night.
Chuck in IL.
 
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mobile_96

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Sam,
I don't read the books online. I save to a special folder in my documents folder, or dwonload to a special folder I've established within the hard drive.
Then, when I have time, I read. For books in html, I usually convert to a word doc. so I can adjust the font size and background color to make reading easier. The same can be done for anything in the PDF format.
Now, for those that say "I can not read a book like that", sit back and consider how many email/day do you read. How many web pages do you dig thru on searches, or how many webpages do you dig thru right here, and almost every day. I don't know about you, but I can get up to 50 email in 1 day, I visit 3 other discussion groups so there can be another 40-50 pages/day, depending on activity. And on major searches, as I've been undertaking recently on pre-1800 slavery, and pre-civil war documents, speeches and debates, I can easily go thru another 75+ pages a day.
So, when I have time, or am taking a break from searches, I spend time reading some of the hundreds of books I've located. Presently I'm reading Empire and Nation: John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania and Richard Henry Lee, Letters from the Federal Farmer, ed. by Forrest McDonald in PDF (In the summer of 1776 Lee authored the motion that the colonies should sever their ties with Britain, and Dickinson was among the foremost opponents of the Declaration of Independence. Eleven summers later, Dickinson helped author the Constitution, and Lee was among its foremost opponents.........As documents that shaped opinion on two critical attempts to relocate power, Dickinson’s and Lee’s letters are historically significant, but they are at least equally significant as archetypes. Dickinson’s view is historical, pragmatic, and in the Burkean sense, conservative; Lee’s is immediate, rational, and in the Jeffersonian sense, liberal.)
After I'm done with this, will finish another one by Tucker, on the Constitution and selected writings, published in 1803.
Although books like this do have drawbacks, they are still, to me, a viable method of getting hold of material I want to read. As much as buying, or borrowing books from the lib. With 1 good difference being, I can cram hundreds of books on 1 cd. They are searchable, and you can of course copy and paste to your postings.
Chuck in IL.
 

matthew mckeon

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El L. Doctorow has just published the "March" about Sherman in Georgia, I haven't read it, but am definitely going to.

As I mentioned earlier, "To Play For A Kingdom" is a very interesting book, about a company of Union zouaves caught up in Grant's 1864 campaign, a spy plot and a increasingly tense and surreal baseball series with a company of Confederates. It sounds very weird, but it works. A nice enlisted man's view of combat, and daily life in the Union Army that summer.
 
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samgrant

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Non-fiction Naratives: Anthing by Bruce Catton, Shehby Foote's 3 vol. work.

Those are the best and most enjyable of overviews, with some detail, of the war, in my opinion.

If you want battle details, look elsewhere.
 

matthew mckeon

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"Army Life in a Black Regiment" by Thomas Wentworth Higginson is a well written memoir of the CO of nearly the first regiment of black troops raised in the war.

Higginson was an unusual character. Editor to Emily Dickinson, novelist, a member of the Secret Six who backed John Brown's raid, he proved to be a very conventional military officer who prided himself on developing a well drilled and disciplined line regiment.
 
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