What is your favorite book about the American Civil War?
That’s a very tough (almost unanswerable question), but I have to go back to the classics and say This Hallowed Ground by Bruce Catton.
Landscape turned red by Stephen Sears was awesome. Another book I loved was Bound for Canaan by Fergus Bordewich about the underground railroad
Gleam of Bayonets
A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton.
Not one book, but the Bruce Catton series, the Army of the Potomac series. A Stillness at Appomattox is the last one of those. My favorite as a child was Little Women.
Ditto here. Although recent scholarship may have superseded some of Catton’s work, he is the one responsible for getting me started.
When I was a child I loved the book “Across Five Aprils.”
I taught that for several years when I taught 5th grade. Excellent book, and I suspect it created a couple of new “buffs” in the process.
Frank O’Reilly’s “The Fredericksburg Campaign.” That book made me want to get involved with the park service. For fiction I’ve read “Red Badge of Courage” too many times to count.
“Confederate Goliath” by Rod Gragg.
I also must add two biographies: James I. Robertson’s Stonewall Jackson and Donald Pfanz’s Richard Ewell.
Don will be thrilled to hear he made your list, Amanda. I’ll pass word on to him, for sure!
I’m a big fan of Shelby Foote’s narrative (all three volumes), which are beautifully written. I also love the third volume of Gordon Rhea’s Overland series, “To the North Anna River.”
More recently, I really, really like Dan and Phill’s new book on the ’64 Valley Campaign, “Bloody Autumn,” which I didn’t know a whole lot about.
For fiction, Shaara’s “Killer Angels” is really good even if cliche. I also really like Robert Olmstead’s “Coal Black Horse.”
When you first reviewed Coal Black Horse, I bought it. I agree–a good read, and a different take on the war.
I got to thinking about your “cliché” comment regarding Killer Angels. I remember the first time I heard about it–the 80s maybe? It was not a cliché then, it was “the best Civil War book ever!” Now it seems cliché´because–here goes–it created the cliches (when I added the “s” I couldn’t get the option to work correctly–lol) ! Coupled with Ken Burns’ efforts, I am pretty sure that there are many who think that WAS the Civil War.
“Fighting for the Confederacy,” by E. Porter Alexander
That’s one of my favorites, too!
A fantastic primary source.
Bruce Catton’s, Stillness at Appomattox. It got me hooked!
Oh, there are way too many to pick just one… But shooting to the top of the list as I am currently enthralled by it: Far, far from home. The Wartime Letters of Dick and Tally Simpson, 3rd South Carolina Volunteers, edited by Guy R. Everson and Edward W. Simpson. Two wonderful voices from the past, humorous, sad, serious, enthusiastic and endearing these letters offer many insights into life during the war and the mid-19th century in general, as Tally passes on messages by the slave who accompanied him to the “black folk” and as he tries long distance courtship with the help of his cousin.
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