Considering the top Civil War books written

Hats off to fellow scholar and blogger Bill Caraher for letting me know about this article from Salon.com. By the way, if you are even remotely interested in the ancient world and/or archaeology, check out his blog and follow him on Twitter.

The Salon article deals with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and encourages buffs of the conflict to read a book a month for the next year and offers a list of the top 12 books on the war. I found the selections rather telling, as many were works of popular history. However, three stood out as strong works that have great influence on the historiography of the war. Among them are David Blight’s Race and Reunion, Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering, and James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, all are hard-hitting monographs. The interesting observation, which Bill posed to me in a question, was that Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox landed at number one on the list. Some may wonder, why Catton?

I believe that this is an interesting placement, and am surprised that Shelby Foote did not make the list. Catton produced some great works on the war and are deserving of high placement on must read lists. He wrote around the time of the centennial of the war and still resonates within the literature. While I generally agree with the list, I am left wondering how professional historians would alter this list. So, I leave fellow scholars with a challenge that I will also dwell upon and post. What twelve books should folks interested in the war read each month over the next year?

I hope you have all had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season and I wish you all a Happy New Year. Until next time, keep researching and writing.

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One thought on “Considering the top Civil War books written

  1. glad we’re celebrating the single greatest event in U.S. history, I wish more people understood its signifagance. Just a few thoughts of my own. Lee’s Lieutenants, by D.S. Freeman as well as his bio of Lee. The series written by Stephen Sears is another. The first CW book I read was from the “We Were There” series of Gettysburg – i was quite young – Bruce Catton’s Never Call Retreat & the companion books with it, also come to mind.
    everyone has their favorite, its just good they’re still reading them… I’m writing a book about the Atlanta Campaign, fiction, probably never get published but it’s a helluva good way to visit with old friends from ‘the war’ as my wife says when she sees me working!

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