A Must Have Book for the Civil War historian

If you are just starting out in history and are looking for starting points for research, there is a book that should be in your library. Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand is a book co-authored by James McPherson and William Cooper, Jr. It is a guide for historians to research the conflict. The book contains twelve essays by various historians on various topics ranging from the governments of each side to the common soldier, to slavery. Other issues include economics, strategy, and gender. The essays cover the historiography of each subject, which allows the reader to gain insight into the important works central to each topic and its relationship to the war. For instance, in researching camps of instruction, I utilized the essay entitled “Not the General But the Soldier: The Study of Civil War Soldiers” by Reid Mitchell. I was able to discover the important scholarly works dealing with soldiers, including Bell Irvin Wiley’s The Life of Billy Yank. The book is a great resource for uncovering the historiography of slavery in America. Almost any topic a historian can research is covered in some fashion by this book. Although it is almost ten years old, Writing the Civil War will provide the important books and authors of a given topic up to the time of publication. In conclusion, pick up a copy of Writing the Civil War and uncover the historiography of your research area of the Civil War.

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