Encyclopedia of the Civil War, General Editor John. S. Bowman (Bison Books Limited, London) 1992

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#1
Some preamble. I got this large hard back book when I was a teenager and at the time I thought it great. Lots and lots of lovely pictures (Currier and Ives mostly), photographs and engaging prose. Since then it has languished amidst my book collection pretty much unread until for whatever reason a couple of days ago I had a yearning to look at it again.

What a mistake.

First I noted the complete lack of referencing. There is no bibliography either while similarly photographs are not given attributions. Then I found various dubious entries. Not quite wrong but not quite right either. Of course then I went and made a mistake. I looked at the lengthy (for the book) description of Gettysburg that is split over parts of four pages (the photos and map are I accept decent) however the prose...

Aaargh.

Vague... except when it perpetuates old myths - Buford with his Spencer Carbines for example - it is fraught with half truths, discrepancies and more.

Almost I put the book down at this point but it was an old friend from my younger years. So I gave it one last chance. So I opened it at random and read a couple of disappointing but nowhere near as bad entries. Then I came to what it had to say about General D.H. Hill.

Umm.

And I quote: A West Point graduate from South Carolina , Hill was the superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in 1861. After organizing a North Carolina instruction camp, he led the 1st North Carolina at Big Bethel and in the Peninsula and Antietam Campaigns. Prominent in the Battle of Chickaumaga, he subsequently recommended Braxton Bragg's removal, earning himself demotion to minor command in North Carolina, where he surrendered with Joseph Johnston.

I put the book down after that.

So, not recommended. Also do not return to childhood favorites...

Sigh.
 

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#2
Some preamble. I got this large hard back book when I was a teenager and at the time I thought it great. Lots and lots of lovely pictures (Currier and Ives mostly), photographs and engaging prose. Since then it has languished amidst my book collection pretty much unread until for whatever reason a couple of days ago I had a yearning to look at it again.

What a mistake.

First I noted the complete lack of referencing. There is no bibliography either while similarly photographs are not given attributions. Then I found various dubious entries. Not quite wrong but not quite right either. Of course then I went and made a mistake. I looked at the lengthy (for the book) description of Gettysburg that is split over parts of four pages (the photos and map are I accept decent) however the prose...

Aaargh.

Vague... except when it perpetuates old myths - Buford with his Spencer Carbines for example - it is fraught with half truths, discrepancies and more.

Almost I put the book down at this point but it was an old friend from my younger years. So I gave it one last chance. So I opened it at random and read a couple of disappointing but nowhere near as bad entries. Then I came to what it had to say about General D.H. Hill.

Umm.

And I quote: A West Point graduate from South Carolina , Hill was the superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in 1861. After organizing a North Carolina instruction camp, he led the 1st North Carolina at Big Bethel and in the Peninsula and Antietam Campaigns. Prominent in the Battle of Chickaumaga, he subsequently recommended Braxton Bragg's removal, earning himself demotion to minor command in North Carolina, where he surrendered with Joseph Johnston.

I put the book down after that.

So, not recommended. Also do not return to childhood favorites...

Sigh.
Ah well. Maybe you can't go home again. There are many books like the one from your youth. In his Wars Of North America, John Keegan wrote about Pickett's cavalry charge. It happens.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2018
Messages
355
Location
Bedford UK
#3
Some preamble. I got this large hard back book when I was a teenager and at the time I thought it great. Lots and lots of lovely pictures (Currier and Ives mostly), photographs and engaging prose. Since then it has languished amidst my book collection pretty much unread until for whatever reason a couple of days ago I had a yearning to look at it again.

What a mistake.

First I noted the complete lack of referencing. There is no bibliography either while similarly photographs are not given attributions. Then I found various dubious entries. Not quite wrong but not quite right either. Of course then I went and made a mistake. I looked at the lengthy (for the book) description of Gettysburg that is split over parts of four pages (the photos and map are I accept decent) however the prose...

Aaargh.

Vague... except when it perpetuates old myths - Buford with his Spencer Carbines for example - it is fraught with half truths, discrepancies and more.

Almost I put the book down at this point but it was an old friend from my younger years. So I gave it one last chance. So I opened it at random and read a couple of disappointing but nowhere near as bad entries. Then I came to what it had to say about General D.H. Hill.

Umm.

And I quote: A West Point graduate from South Carolina , Hill was the superintendent of the North Carolina Military Institute in 1861. After organizing a North Carolina instruction camp, he led the 1st North Carolina at Big Bethel and in the Peninsula and Antietam Campaigns. Prominent in the Battle of Chickaumaga, he subsequently recommended Braxton Bragg's removal, earning himself demotion to minor command in North Carolina, where he surrendered with Joseph Johnston.

I put the book down after that.

So, not recommended. Also do not return to childhood favorites...

Sigh.
Snap! Mine was a birthday present. Thanks for the warning, I've still got it :thumbsup:
 



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