Civil War fiction books like or dislike or mehh?

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Rio Bravo

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Cold Mountain.
’ A remarkable first novel, a romance of love, of friendship, of family, of land. Frazier has inhaled the spirit of the age and breathes it into the reader’s being..’.
Erica Wagner, The Times.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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I write non-fiction. I have no interest whatsoever in someone else's fictionalization of events that actually occurred. There's enough of what actually happened to keep me busy for the rest of my life. If I'm going to read fiction, it's truly fiction and not fiction disguised as serious history.
 
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DRW

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Also:

Jim Mundy
Miss Ranenel's Conversion From Secession to Loyalty
Traveler


All books I've loved.
I second Miss Ravenel's Conversion, which includes a vivid account of the Red River campaign, and also the occupation of New Orleans, which author John De Forest drew from his own experience as as Union soldier. De Forest also wrote a great memoir about his time as Freedmen's Bureau agent in South Carolina. Ambrose Bierce's short stories, especially those collected in Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, have fantastical elements, but Bierce, also a veteran, included realistic details and settings.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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I've read some books that were non fiction and it was worse than some fictional books.
No doubt.

To me, the challenge--and I view it as a challenge--is to make my non-fiction writing interesting enough that people don't feel like they need a fictionalization of actual events to enjoy it.

I love The Killer Angels as much as the next guy. But it's a novel--filled with the author's biases, outright factual errors, and his insistence on inserting himself into the story as the fictional Buster Kilrain. I prefer well-written non-fiction any day of the week as a result.
 
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Joshism

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I've never cared much for fiction, although I read some occasionally. Grade school might have ruined that for me with all the classics we read, none of which I enjoyed. Alternate history for me is kind of like heavy metal; I like the idea of it and some of the product, but most of the genre is pretty bad. I avoid historical fiction entirely.

I think it comes down to what you want out of your reading experience. I read to learn, and hope to be entertained in the process. Lots of people read primarily to be entertained.

It's troublesome when people get a distorted view of history from fiction. Obviously some prominent examples like "Birth of a Nation" or "Gone With The Wind" but I've seen how the popularity of crime dramas has caused people to have some real unrealistic ideas about crime and criminal investigations, to give one example.
 

Cavalier

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I have tried civil war fiction. I only go for the military or battle type books, in the vein of Hornblower. However as soon as the battle descriptions go Hollywood I am done.

The Killer Angles was ok but I hadn't found any specifically civil war since that I found interesting. I did like Sharra's Mexican War book. I am going to give Ralph Peters a try. I hadnt heard of him before reading this.

I have always wondered why a guy who is writing a book that included narratives of battles makes no apparent effort to depict what would actually have occurred.

John
 

damYankee

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No doubt.

To me, the challenge--and I view it as a challenge--is to make my non-fiction writing interesting enough that people don't feel like they need a fictionalization of actual events to enjoy it.

I love The Killer Angels as much as the next guy. But it's a novel--filled with the author's biases, outright factual errors, and his insistence on inserting himself into the story as the fictional Buster Kilrain. I prefer well-written non-fiction any day of the week as a result.
I get your point, however in some of the best biographies I have read the authors use a fictitious character who provides the author to present the biography from the view of friend or in the case of a general as an aide.
 
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Nathanb1

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No doubt.

To me, the challenge--and I view it as a challenge--is to make my non-fiction writing interesting enough that people don't feel like they need a fictionalization of actual events to enjoy it.

I love The Killer Angels as much as the next guy. But it's a novel--filled with the author's biases, outright factual errors, and his insistence on inserting himself into the story as the fictional Buster Kilrain. I prefer well-written non-fiction any day of the week as a result.
After years of being on this forum...let's just say there are times I'd like to gather up all the TKA copies up and burn 'em to prevent any more of those frustrating...um. You know.
 

James N.

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I am wonding what everyone thinks about historical fiction books. Whether its say the killer angles or North and South.
Or Historical fiction like Turtledove books.
I read one of the book by Nwet Gingrish (yes its spelled terribly) and it was mehhh. Tryed reading a Turtledove book about the British attacking the north during the war then South steping in to take out the British.
For the most part I find them mehhh or just boring. One exception was a fiction book about Shiloh and I think it was by Shelby Foot called Shiloh.
I stay with non-fiction but does anyone have book recommendations, or has anyone writen a book?
My usual mantra is "Life's too short to read novels" so for Civil War subjects I have made very few exceptions, the Shelby Foote Shiloh you mentioned being one and Michael Sharra's The Killer Angels and his son Jeff's Gods And Generals being the others. I wasn't impressed enough by Jeff Sharra's to even attempt the last of the trilogy, though I would recommend the Foote to anyone wanting a short, novelistic treatment of that particular battle.

Edit: I'd forgotten Red Badge of Courage which I read in school.
 
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Belfoured

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I have tried civil war fiction. I only go for the military or battle type books, in the vein of Hornblower. However as soon as the battle descriptions go Hollywood I am done.

The Killer Angles was ok but I hadn't found any specifically civil war since that I found interesting. I did like Sharra's Mexican War book. I am going to give Ralph Peters a try. I hadnt heard of him before reading this.

I have always wondered why a guy who is writing a book that included narratives of battles makes no apparent effort to depict what would actually have occurred.

John
Peters is highly recommended - much more than the Shaaras IMHO. If you want to do it chronologically, start with the most recent - he went back to Chancellorsville. Then follow the publication sequence - Gettysburg, Overland, Valley, Petersburg, Appomattox.
 

Eric Wittenberg

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Peters is highly recommended - much more than the Shaaras IMHO. If you want to do it chronologically, start with the most recent - he went back to Chancellorsville. Then follow the publication sequence - Gettysburg, Overland, Valley, Petersburg, Appomattox.
Michael Shaara was a GREAT writer. His son, definitely not so much....
 
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I like both. Sometimes I'll read good fiction first and then research (that's been the pattern on a lot of stuff in my life), or the other way around--I learn about something and then happen across a fictional book. The way I taught English Lit was to teach the history and then have the kids read the literature--it's a contextual clue and who's to say an author's take on a time/place/event isn't worded so eloquently that it has an important place in our concept of the event and people involved. Lots of my favorites have been listed already--but I haven't noticed Woe to Live On by Daniell Woodrell (the film was Ride With the Devil), nor The Black Flower and The Judas Field, by Howard Bahr, which both focus on Franklin (contemporaneously and post-war).

I remember my mentor teacher, a long-time reenactor and football coach, reading Killer Angels during lunch, probably for the umpteenth time, and seeing tears come to his eyes. Good prose'll do that to ya.
Howard Bahr's, The Black Flower is superb.
 
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Joshism

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I get your point, however in some of the best biographies I have read the authors use a fictitious character who provides the author to present the biography from the view of friend or in the case of a general as an aide.
Edmund Morris did this in Dutch, a biography he wrote about Reagan. It seemed to be a pretty controversial, and strikes me as a very odd narrative decision. That was the first time I've ever heard of such a thing and I don't think I can name any other examples of self-insertion biography. I have come across a few fictional autobiographies of real people though.
 
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