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History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

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History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Old 08-01-09, 02:30 AM
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History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

I'm a very big history buff, with my main forté being the Civil War, Lincoln, and that era in American history. I love Revolutionary War stuff too, but the Civil War is where most of my interest lies.

I go in to Barnes & Nobles frequently just picking up random books on the subjects but it's hard blindly going in to see if the book is remotely good or not. Any suggestions? There are so many on the subject, but I'd love a good read chronicling anything - specific battles, the War itself, the Lincoln Administration and Assassination, and even the turmoil during Reconstruction.

This is my first post in Book Talk so I appreciate the help.
Old 08-01-09, 07:31 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote



Best and most complete Civil War book ever written, period.



Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson



What a page turner, I loved this book as well.


Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama by Stephen Fox



Book about the CSS Alabama the feared Confederate Pirate Ship.


Cavalryman of the Lost Cause : A Biography of J. E. B. Stuart by Jeffry D. Wert



That JEB was quite the Character!



They Called Him Stonewall by Burke Davis




He asked a lot of his men but they really loved him, great book!


Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin



You've probably read this but I will include it anyway!


Have not read it yet, but it looks interesting:

The H. L. Hunley : The Secret Hope of the Confederacy by Tom Chaffin




Hope this helps!
Old 08-01-09, 08:13 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Lateralus,

Your recommendation makes a lot of sense. Wasn't Shelby Foote featured prominently in Ken Burns Civil War documentary on PBS!
Old 08-01-09, 10:12 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by JAA
Lateralus,

Your recommendation makes a lot of sense. Wasn't Shelby Foote featured prominently in Ken Burns Civil War documentary on PBS!
Yup, that was him; I'm glad he did that as he died a couple years ago.
Old 08-01-09, 12:11 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

James McPherson is generally considered the preeminent historian of the Civil War, so any of his works would be highly recommended. His Battle Cry of Freedom is the definitive single-volume history of the war (and more than enough information for just about anyone's purposes, I would think).
Old 08-01-09, 12:44 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Thanks a lot! I'm going to add those to my list of things to buy. I can't get enough on the subject. I appreciate the suggestions!
Old 08-10-09, 07:45 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by Lateralus
The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote



Best and most complete Civil War book ever written, period.


agreed it doesnt get any better
Old 08-16-09, 08:17 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

It's a bit out of date (well, quite a bit) but I enjoyed Douglas Southall Freeman's biography of Robert E. Lee, titled simply Lee. David Herbert Donald's Lincoln is a good one volume bio of the president. Personal Memoirs Of U.S. Grant has an excellent reputation, but I've never read it. If you're interested in crossing over to the fiction side of the street, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is of course a must.
Old 08-16-09, 08:38 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

If you're into strategy, JFC Fuller's two Civil War books -- The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant and Grant & Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship -- will intrigue and delight.

Apart from that, Foote's work is essential. If you're like me and can really get into minutiae, check out EB Long's The Civil War Day by Day - An Almanac. It literally tells you exactly what happened every single day of the war.

For example. On Tuesday, January 7, 1862, "Jackson's forces, turning from Hancock, Md., moved toward Romney, western Va., away from the Potomac, with fighting at Hanging Rock Pass or Blue's Gap. In the eastern Kentucky operations, there was a skirmish near Paintsville and another at Jennie's Creek, as Federals moved slowly forward. The Federal Department of North Carolina was constituted and would be commanded by Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside."
Old 08-16-09, 08:46 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by Hank Ringworm
If you're into strategy, JFC Fuller's two Civil War books -- The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant and Grant & Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship -- will intrigue and delight.

Apart from that, Foote's work is essential. If you're like me and can really get into minutiae, check out EB Long's The Civil War Day by Day - An Almanac. It literally tells you exactly what happened every single day of the war.

For example. On Tuesday, January 7, 1862, "Jackson's forces, turning from Hancock, Md., moved toward Romney, western Va., away from the Potomac, with fighting at Hanging Rock Pass or Blue's Gap. In the eastern Kentucky operations, there was a skirmish near Paintsville and another at Jennie's Creek, as Federals moved slowly forward. The Federal Department of North Carolina was constituted and would be commanded by Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside."
I'm not a a strategy guy, but that Almanac sounds downright fascinating.

I appreciate all of the suggestions - I'm going to give most of these reads now in the near future!
Old 08-17-09, 12:16 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

I assume you've read The Killer Angels? If not, that'd be first on my list of recommendations.
Old 08-17-09, 12:19 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

I'm about to watch Ken Burns' Civil War series (after I'm done with baseball); do you recommend that I read Foote's The Civil War before I watch Burn's Civil War or after? Does it matter?

E
Old 08-17-09, 06:49 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by DeltaSigChi4
I'm about to watch Ken Burns' Civil War series (after I'm done with baseball); do you recommend that I read Foote's The Civil War before I watch Burn's Civil War or after? Does it matter?

E
I've done both and it does not really matter.
Old 08-17-09, 07:35 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

If you want a great perspective from the soldiers, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War is a great one.

http://www.amazon.com/Cause-Comrades.../dp/0195124995

Also, my professor H.W. Brands is currently writing a book on Grant and General Sherman that is coming out next year.

Straker's request above of Personal Memoirs Of U.S. Grant is really worth reading as well.
Old 08-17-09, 08:48 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by trespoochies
If you want a great perspective from the soldiers, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War is a great one.

http://www.amazon.com/Cause-Comrades.../dp/0195124995

Also, my professor H.W. Brands is currently writing a book on Grant and General Sherman that is coming out next year.

Straker's request above of Personal Memoirs Of U.S. Grant is really worth reading as well.
You have a class with H.W. Brands?!?!?!?! How cool is that!
Old 08-17-09, 08:54 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

I've had a few. I'm in grad school at the Univesity of Texas in Austin, and he's my mentor/advisor. Great guy and historian to say the least.
Old 08-17-09, 11:44 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

I also recommend the Shelby Foote series, as well as Why the Civil War Came by Gabor Boritt. My mom knows a few Civil War historians through her work and not only are Shelby Foote and Gabor Boritt great historians, they were (Foote) / are (Boritt) pretty nice guys.
Old 08-18-09, 02:55 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Old 08-18-09, 08:48 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by djmont
James McPherson is generally considered the preeminent historian of the Civil War, so any of his works would be highly recommended. His Battle Cry of Freedom is the definitive single-volume history of the war (and more than enough information for just about anyone's purposes, I would think).
I agree. Battle Cry of Freedom is the book to pick up if you only want to read one on the war. McPherson also does an excellent job of covering the causes as well as the events leading up to the war without making the material too dry. McPherson is still at it, by the way. He just had a new book about Lincoln come out last year.

I had the pleasure of meeting Shelby Foote back in 1993 and listen to him talk for an hour or so in a very small lecture hall. That was a good day.

Don't forget about Bruce Catton's works. He wrote so beautifully.
Old 08-21-09, 11:58 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by trespoochies
I've had a few. I'm in grad school at the Univesity of Texas in Austin, and he's my mentor/advisor. Great guy and historian to say the least.
Tell Prof. Brands that I really enjoyed his book on Teddy Roosevelt!
Old 10-17-09, 02:52 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Two more good books in case anybody is interested:




Old 10-18-09, 08:34 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by Lateralus
Two more good books in case anybody is interested:

I read this several years back. It is solid.

I was just telling someone this story the other day. Once, just after college when I was first learning about the Civil War in great detail, I was driving from Birmingham, AL to New Orleans on I-59 and stopped in the city of Laurel, MS to eat at a Burger King. Laurel just happens to be the largest city in Jones County.

I had decided to eat in the dining room rather than drive and eat and sat next to a talkative old man and a boy who was probably his grandson. Having noted that I was in Jones County, I leaned over to him during a lull in their conversation and said something to the effect of, "Excuse me, sir. Isn't the county they called the 'Kingdom of Jones' during the Civil War?"

Oh my Lord Dear Jesus did he ever launch into a tirade that kept me pinned to my seat for 20 minutes. He wasn't mad at me or in any way disrespectful to me for having asked the question, but the gist of his opinion was that it may have been the "Kingdom of Jones" then but it sure as hell wasn't the "Kingdom of Jones" anymore, thank-you-very-much, and that most residents nowadays were embarrassed about that little slice of local history, etc., etc. It was fascinating though and I have never regretted the 20 minutes I spent listening to the guy.

My in-laws are from Jones County's opposite number, Calhoun County, IL. It was and remains known as the "Kingdom of Calhoun" and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment before and during the War. It is just upriver from Alton, IL, where abolitionist newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoy was murdered and his printing press dumped in the Mississippi river in 1837.
Old 10-18-09, 08:47 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

If you can find a copy anywhere (as it now appears to be out of print), The Guns of Cedar Creek by Thomas Lewis is a book I highly recommend. It is one of the most readable and entertaining books about a single battle that I have ever read for starters, but it is also about a battle that deserves to be 10 times more famous than it is today.

Winston Groom's Shrouds of Glory: From Atlanta to Nashville: The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War is also quite good. It is recount of John Bell Hood's final campaign into Tennessee where he was hammered at the Battle of Nashville by George Thomas. Thomas also deserves to be 10 times more famous today than he is.

Groom also wrote a book about Vicksburg (Vicksburg, 1863) but I have not read it.
Old 10-21-09, 09:52 AM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by jfoobar
I read this several years back. It is solid.



I was just telling someone this story the other day. Once, just after college when I was first learning about the Civil War in great detail, I was driving from Birmingham, AL to New Orleans on I-59 and stopped in the city of Laurel, MS to eat at a Burger King. Laurel just happens to be the largest city in Jones County.

I had decided to eat in the dining room rather than drive and eat and sat next to a talkative old man and a boy who was probably his grandson. Having noted that I was in Jones County, I leaned over to him during a lull in their conversation and said something to the effect of, "Excuse me, sir. Isn't the county they called the 'Kingdom of Jones' during the Civil War?"

Oh my Lord Dear Jesus did he ever launch into a tirade that kept me pinned to my seat for 20 minutes. He wasn't mad at me or in any way disrespectful to me for having asked the question, but the gist of his opinion was that it may have been the "Kingdom of Jones" then but it sure as hell wasn't the "Kingdom of Jones" anymore, thank-you-very-much, and that most residents nowadays were embarrassed about that little slice of local history, etc., etc. It was fascinating though and I have never regretted the 20 minutes I spent listening to the guy.

My in-laws are from Jones County's opposite number, Calhoun County, IL. It was and remains known as the "Kingdom of Calhoun" and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment before and during the War. It is just upriver from Alton, IL, where abolitionist newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoy was murdered and his printing press dumped in the Mississippi river in 1837.
I like doing stuff like that but I seem to read the book AFTER I visit these places. I drove from Nebraska to Seattle following almost the exact route followed by Lewis and Clark and I was clueless to all the neat stuff I was passing, then I read a book about it and I thought to myself "Hey I passed all these places!" This May I drove up to Montreal and I drove right past (Within a block) of the resting place of Baron De Steuben, I would have loved to stop by and check it out but alas I read a book on the Baron a week after I got back!
Old 10-27-09, 08:35 PM
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Re: History Buffs: Recommend Me Good Books on The Civil War

Originally Posted by mgbfan
I assume you've read The Killer Angels? If not, that'd be first on my list of recommendations.
Which would you perfer, paperback or hardcover?
Not that it really makes a difference, but just asking.

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