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What's your least favourite civil war book?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by wt_jimbos, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. wt_jimbos

    wt_jimbos Cadet

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    We have plenty of discussions on books we are reading and like, what I would like to know is what book people haven't liked.
    The reason for this post is simply because when I am look for books to read I always read the reviews that give low scores, simply because "usually" when someone posts a review that is negative they can't just say it was no good, so it forces them to explain more in depth why, rather than when most people support a book they seem more likely to just paint on the praise.

    So if you weren't happy with a book please give it a review that you think fits, but remember it's harder to bag a book than praise it, because you are more likely to attrach negative attention and tend to need to back your ideas.

    I'll try and go through my book collection and find a book that I felt wasn't up to scratch rather than set this challange and run.
     
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  3. cwrose

    cwrose Cadet

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    Well, I've got quite the collection of books, but I haven't had time to read them all. There are kind of two that I would say qualify for me. They are both works of fiction, so does that count?

    The first one that comes to mind is Grant Speaks (I'm sorry, but I can't recall the author). I started reading this book and decided that I should probably read Grant's memoirs first so that I would be able to understand the satire. After reading Grant's actual memoirs I couldn't bring myself to pick up Grant Speaks again because from what I had managed to read it was almost like they were taking potshots at him. Perhaps I am way off base, but I don't know if I'll be able to pick that book up ever again.

    The second one that ties is the book Cold Mountain. I know that this is supposed to be a wonderful novel, a great piece of literature, but I just have a VERY hard time sympathizing with the main characters. I know how it ends (thanks to friends who were willing to divulge the ending), and I feel that Inman got what he deserved, and Ada... don't get me started on her. I just can't get into her mindset. I think that that's my biggest problem with her. I was raised by a strong woman and am therefore a strong woman myself, and faced with adversity I would actually make the attempt to do something. I guess that I identify with Ruby more. It upsets me, though, that I have a complete lack of compassion for these characters. That usually doesn't happen with me. Anyways, so that's why Cold Mountain is one of my least favorite books. I don't know if my reasons are valid, but that's just how I feel.
     
  4. Johnny Rube

    Johnny Rube Cadet

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    I was unable to wade through "Pickett's Charge" by Earl Hess. I made it about 2/3 of the way and became so confused (and annoyed) by the constant references to unfamiliar commanders, finding myself backtracking frequently to figure out who they were (my memory isn't great) that I finally gave up. I'll try again when I'm more familiar with the Gettysburg battles.
     
  5. bill_torrens

    bill_torrens Cadet Honored Fallen Comrade

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    My nomination would be "Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History", by Alan T. Nolan - easily the most irritating book published since the invention of the printing press.

    In it a slick Yankee lawyer castigates Lee for not having the attitudes of a late 20th century Northern liberal. What else is in the book? Er, nothing.
     
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  6. 8thvacav

    8thvacav Cadet

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    Book I didn't like

    James McPherson's book Battle Cry For Freedom is one of the driest books I ever tried to read. I read a quarter way through it and gave up. It is also one sided. I gave the book away.

    I liked Cold Mountain but I thought it had a very poor ending. The movie was all right till they put the sex scenes in. It did nothing for the movie but I thought it took away from it. There were young kids setting all a round me and that wasn't something they should see.

    I love to read but a book has to hold my interest. I love Shelby Foote's books. That guy can write!
     
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  7. max

    max Corporal

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    Only in a place or two did I have a problem with Battle Cry of Freedom. Also I thought the movie Cold Mountain was good but overrated, I would hope the book is better. For qutie awhile I've been trying to struggle through the book Traveller. Sections are interesting but I've had trouble following what Traveller has to say. I've always said that animals are smarter than people, and I think Traveller has shown me that I need more horse sense than what I have.

    Max
     
  8. sockknitter

    sockknitter Sergeant

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    I agree with cwrose about Grant Speaks (by Ev Ehrlich). Not only does this fantasy try to make Grant look like an imposter and a drunken dimwit, it puts words in his mouth that disparage Lee as a person. I am so glad I bought it at a steep discount, and would throw it out of my house, but think I need to keep it out of the hands of anybody else.
     
  9. CBar

    CBar Cadet

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    I think this is a great thread, which makes me want to defend as well as attack certain books. I will have a candidate for a very irritating and weakly argued book, Jim Cullen's The Civil War in Popular Culture: A Reusable Past (Smithsonian), and I very much want to defend Cold Mountain, which I think has been misunderstood. I will have to return when I have time to do justice to both in posts of greater length.
     
  10. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Sears' "Gettysburg." Nothing new. Obviously, he's in the mode of Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King -- never mind the content, just do a book!

    "The South was Right," Kennedy brothers. Interesting for the viewpoint but useless as history.

    It's been so long since I've read McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" that I can't comment. But it's long and very likely has been superceded by more recent scholars.
     
  11. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    The South Was Right! by the Kennedy brothers. The book is used mainly as a sermon to the converted, not as any serious take on history.

    Unionblue
     
  12. mofederal

    mofederal 2nd Lieutenant Member of the Month

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    Prisoners of Twilight by Don Robertson it did nothing for me, but put me to sleep, just terrible. I liked his earlier books. This was one too many. Advance and Retreat by John Bell Hood, nothing was his fault. Albert Castel's Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West, research was poor. I like his other works.
     
  13. shermans_march

    shermans_march First Sergeant

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    The Real Lincoln by Thomas Dilorenzo or Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States: The Irrefutable Argument by Gene Kizer Jr. Or any book that should be written by a historian, but is not written by a historian. Like Clouds of Glory by Michael Korda.
     
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  14. MaryDee

    MaryDee Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    I didn't have many problems getting through Battle Cry of Freedom, but I was really annoyed at the way McPherson kept citing Shelby Foote in his footnotes (sorry, no pun intended), even though Shelby Foote's The Civil War has no documentation at all! It's a reasonably good summary, but it suffers from the summarization. McPherson is certainly not a scintillating writer! That's probably why my paperback volume is so messed up--I kept falling asleep on it!
     
  15. gary

    gary Captain

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    I tried to read Selby Foote's trilogy, but couldn't. Not a criticism of the man, but his style didn't appeal to me.
     
  16. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Shelby Foote's Trilogy. I read every page of every book, always hoping it would get better and it never did.
     
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  17. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel

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    Not sure what was my least favorite, as I'll bet I never finished it and did my best to forget it.
     
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  18. photoman475

    photoman475 Sergeant

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    I read Cold Mountain and did not like it at all. The plot seemed contrived to me.
     
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  19. Scott Bowden

    Scott Bowden Corporal

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    I would argue that it's even worse than that. Hopelessly confused by his subject matter which leads to his intellectually dishonesty and a narrative completely absent of historically framed context, Nolan totally exposes his ignorance on military history. His utter lack of understanding between grand strategy and the operational direction of an army is as revelaing as it is shocking. In the end, Nolan's fantastical arguments of what Lee should have done are in very close company with even more ridiculous "publications" by some other authors who will remain nameless. To summarize, Nolan's narrative on Lee's military actions is ridiculously inaccurate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
  20. Scott Bowden

    Scott Bowden Corporal

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    If you ever read the book titled something along the lines of Conversations with Shelby Foote, he reveals that he is, in essence, embarrassed by people remembering him for having written in the historical field. Foote always considered himself a novelist, before and after the trilogy.
     
  21. Jimklag

    Jimklag Captain Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    Hands down, Phillip Thomas Tucker Pickett's Charge sucks the most.
     

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