Civil War fiction books like or dislike or mehh?

Joined
Jun 20, 2012
Location
Pacific Northwest
I think the key to good historical fiction is making sure all the history in your book is accurate to the best of your knowledge, doing your due diligence with research, and using multiple sources. The fictional part should fall into the realm of historical possibility. Nothing loses a reader's trust faster than sloppy research or things they know aren't true.

If you can do that, I think historical fiction is a great way to introduce people to history. It's like the sugar with the medicine. I've been a lifetime fan of the genre. I often start my journey with a novel but then have to start looking things up because I want to know if it's true or I just want to learn more.

I always finish the novels I write with a "historical note," where I explain all the things that really happen that were in my narrative and add possibly more information. I also include my sources at the end so people can see where I got my information and where they can read more.

...And now for my shameless plug:
View attachment 373000

Rampage on the River: The Battle for Island No. 10 (2nd Michigan Cavalry Chronicles: Book 1)
A swashbuckling adventure set in the American Civil War where love, honor, and friendship are tested in the madness and chaos of war. A reluctant Yankee cavalryman teams up with his old Confederate classmate to save someone very dear before it's too late.

Rampage on the River brings to life the real battles of Fort Donelson, New Madrid, and Island No. 10 where the Confederates make their stand against dreaded Federal Ironclads to stop the Yankee invasion. It is the first book in a series that follows the exploits of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry.

...and:

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The Perils of Perryville (2nd Michigan Cavalry Chronicles Book 2) A rip-roaring adventure set in the American Civil War where friendship, love, and family are tested by the madness of war. An accusation of treason sends friends and enemies spiraling into chaos as the Yankee invasion pushes deeper into the South, countered by a Rebel push into the border State of Kentucky. The Perils of Perryville follows the stories of heroes and villains on both sides through the very real battles of Shiloh, New Orleans, First Corinth, Memphis, Munfordville, and ultimately Perryville, where the fate of Kentucky will be decided. This is the second book in the "2nd Michigan Chronicles" series. You don't necessarily have to read the first book to enjoy this one.
I think we're in a Facebook group- I've seen those before :smile:
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2012
Location
Pacific Northwest
I base my writing on primary sources (including the official records) and analysis based on primary sources- a big one being Fishel's Secret War for the Union. There are also several monographs written by the various intelligence agencies which have some valuable insights. I'm very careful in any scenario I craft to base it on events which occurred during the war, although I may change which side conducted them historically. I keep it based in plausibility, bounded by what was known to the participants at the time- occasionally I'll add something which could reasonably have been known/available to the characters had they taken a different historical course of action (ie: taking the left fork vs. a right which caused them to miss a cavalry patrol's presence in the area). It didn't happen, per the official histories, but it could have happened, and that's the setting I use for my books.
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2020
Just want to put in a plug for Varina by Charles Frazier. I LOVED Cold Mountain, but Varina takes the cake. I love a good Southern tale that is so far from the Lost Cause it makes your heart break in a million pieces from the crushing defeat. The humility!!! Frazier incorporates so much humanity into his writing there are life lessons to be learned by anyone from his own interpretation of Varina Davis. A real page turner. Loved it!
 

Booklady

Sergeant
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Location
New England
To Play for a Kingdom was okay. Ending went a little off the rails.
The whole relationship between Lyman Alder and Micah Breese I found somewhat confusing, especially their exchanges during Lyman's last two at bats. I guess they were meant to add suspense or uncertainty about the spy angle. But I liked the story, overall, and especially appreciated learning so much more about Spotsylvania, appalling tragedy that it was.
 

BelleBlackburn

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Location
Nashville, TN
My mother drug my 14-year-old, unwilling self off to see Gone With the Wind and it literally changed my life. Not that it was that spectacular, but it was the first time I ever learned history in the context of a story. Up to that point it was this dreadful list of dates, wars, politicians, etc. that bored me to tears. Loathed history. When facts about history or a war were weaved into a good story, I really loved it. So that piqued my interest in history, which continues now in my old age. When I came to Nashville for college I spent my time pulling over to read the historical markers and was rather mesmerized that all these monumental things happened right where I was standing. So years later I put all that history I had absorbed into a couple of novels and it was fun writing. So I know hardcore historians thumb their noses at novels, and for true research you have to read the straight history, but it sure is more fun to read good history (well researched) in a good story. As they say, that's my opinion, ought to be yours. :mstickle:
 

Zella

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 23, 2018
So I know hardcore historians thumb their noses at novels
I think this is assumed more than it is actually true. I studied history in college, and all of my history professors (who were harder than most of the lit professors I had in grad school) were avid readers of both fiction and nonfiction, and they frequently assigned historical fiction in classes. For my Civil War class, The Killer Angels was one of the assigned books, in fact.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
Fiction can be a great avenue to historical understanding. Even rags like “Gone with the Wind” May lead someone to study further. The danger lays in one thinking they have an understanding of history through reading these historical fictions without the study they should engender.
 

Zella

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 23, 2018
Fiction can be a great avenue to historical understanding. Even rags like “Gone with the Wind” May lead someone to study further. The danger lays in one thinking they have an understanding of history through reading these historical fictions without the study they should engender.
Yes exactly.
 

shooter too

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
As a collector of baseball books, both fiction and nonfiction,


Try this one.

41xP6CCdfBL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


https://www.amazon.com/dp/1583941878/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Location
Hannover, Germany
My mother drug my 14-year-old, unwilling self off to see Gone With the Wind and it literally changed my life. Not that it was that spectacular, but it was the first time I ever learned history in the context of a story. Up to that point it was this dreadful list of dates, wars, politicians, etc. that bored me to tears. Loathed history. When facts about history or a war were weaved into a good story, I really loved it. So that piqued my interest in history, which continues now in my old age. When I came to Nashville for college I spent my time pulling over to read the historical markers and was rather mesmerized that all these monumental things happened right where I was standing. So years later I put all that history I had absorbed into a couple of novels and it was fun writing. So I know hardcore historians thumb their noses at novels, and for true research you have to read the straight history, but it sure is more fun to read good history (well researched) in a good story. As they say, that's my opinion, ought to be yours. :mstickle:
Exactly the same here! It was through novels that my interest in "true" history was kindled.
Yesterday I watched a Shelby Foote interview ("Stars in their course") on Youtube and he was asked why he did not use foot notes or a bibliography at the end of his work. He replied that he wanted to transport Civil War knowledge vi a narratie and that the damage that would have been done to his storytelling would habe been greater than the academic benefit some historians would get from a list of books they most probably even know already.
This having said, I always have a look at the bibliography at the end of the novels by Philippa Gregory and have often read a non-fiction book to dig deeper in one of the topics from the novel.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I base my writing on primary sources (including the official records) and analysis based on primary sources- a big one being Fishel's Secret War for the Union. There are also several monographs written by the various intelligence agencies which have some valuable insights. I'm very careful in any scenario I craft to base it on events which occurred during the war, although I may change which side conducted them historically. I keep it based in plausibility, bounded by what was known to the participants at the time- occasionally I'll add something which could reasonably have been known/available to the characters had they taken a different historical course of action (ie: taking the left fork vs. a right which caused them to miss a cavalry patrol's presence in the area). It didn't happen, per the official histories, but it could have happened, and that's the setting I use for my books.
If one is looking for a series of fictional novels on the Civil War from the 1840's thru the war, then I suggest John Jake's three set volume. It starts with two boys who meet at West Point then follows them thru the Mexican War. They remain in close contact thru the period to the war, by letters and travels to each of the other's home. It shows the effects that the political and social events have upon the two families ,at home and in the nation, one event is when one goes North to visit his friend and how he is meet with by people he meets. The second is the time leading to the war and the war itself ,the changes as the war progresses from one of glory to one of total destruction on the land and upon the people of the South from the view of this one family. Third volume is after the war ,most honest book even if it is a novel, on Reconstruction that I have read. Sorry that I can not remember the order of the titles ,just look up John Jakes.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
I think this is assumed more than it is actually true. I studied history in college, and all of my history professors (who were harder than most of the lit professors I had in grad school) were avid readers of both fiction and nonfiction, and they frequently assigned historical fiction in classes. For my Civil War class, The Killer Angels was one of the assigned books, in fact.
May I suggest a female story of the war, Charles Frazier's" Vaira" ,the story of Vaira Davis the wife of Jefferson Davis, yes that Davis. I will not tell you anything of her story, but I will tell you that before reading it you may want to research her ,she has a interesting story to tell. I am about to order her bio. After you research her , you might want to do that to her black "son' and Jefferson's brother where she lived while Jef. went to war. She was a woman from a total different background and from a different belief than the family she married into and a husband who may still not recovered from the death of his first wife. Yet her story is one of courage. and devotion to a cause she did not believe in, even thought her daughter became the 'Daughter of the Confederacy".
 

huskerblitz

Major
Joined
Jun 8, 2013
Location
Nebraska
If one is looking for a series of fictional novels on the Civil War from the 1840's thru the war, then I suggest John Jake's three set volume. It starts with two boys who meet at West Point then follows them thru the Mexican War. They remain in close contact thru the period to the war, by letters and travels to each of the other's home. It shows the effects that the political and social events have upon the two families ,at home and in the nation, one event is when one goes North to visit his friend and how he is meet with by people he meets. The second is the time leading to the war and the war itself ,the changes as the war progresses from one of glory to one of total destruction on the land and upon the people of the South from the view of this one family. Third volume is after the war ,most honest book even if it is a novel, on Reconstruction that I have read. Sorry that I can not remember the order of the titles ,just look up John Jakes.
This is "North and South", "Love and War", and "Heaven and Hell".
 
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