ECW Honors Nelson’s The Three-Cornered War with Book Award

Emerging Civil War has selected Megan Kate Nelson’s The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Simon & Schuster, 2000) as the recipient of this year’s Emerging Civil War Book Award.

The Emerging Civil War Book Award recognizes a work of Civil War history with a public history focus published in the preceding calendar year. Recipients are chosen by ECW’s stable of published authors, making the award a peer-to-peer honor given by Civil War writers to Civil War writers.

The committee also named two honorable mentions: Timothy B. Smith’s The Union Assaults on Vicksburg: Grant Attacks Pemberton, May 17-22, 1863 (University Press of Kansas) and Zachary Fry’s A Republic in the Ranks: Loyalty and Dissent in the Army of the Potomac (University of North Carolina Press).

“Nelson’s Three-Cornered War has the elements of a great read: evocative prose, imaginative structure, and an untold story. Besides contributing to our knowledge of the Civil War in the Far West, it is fast-paced with characters whom we come to know intimately,” the Book Award committee said.

The committee also pointed to the new light the book shed on a forgotten but vital part of Civil War history. “Nelson’s book amplifies voices from a neglected theater of the nation’s defining conflict,” the committee said in its citation. “In page-turning prose, this memorable narrative–woven around carefully-sketched protagonists–not only makes clear the significance of the far southwest in the Civil War era, but raises new questions about the character of the war and its relationship to indigenous peoples. An accessible and compulsively readable history that manages to say something new about the most written about episode in our nation’s past.”

You can read ECW’s review of The Three-Cornered War, written by Phill Greenwalt in March 2020, here.

In its citation of Smith’s book, the committee lauded his work in the western theater as definitive. “Timothy B. Smith’s latest tome is everything that we’ve come to expect from him–clear prose, dramatic narrative, solid research, and deft analysis. He has established himself as the singular authority on the war’s western theater,” the committee said.

Of Fry’s book, the committee noted the important contribution it makes in ongoing understanding of the main Union army in the east. “Zack Fry’s A Republic in the Ranks is an excellent addition to the literature on the Army of the Potomac, demonstrating how politics roiled the armies no less than the homefront. A model monograph.”

You can read an ECW BookChat with Timothy Smith about his book here.

You can read an ECW BookChat with Zachary Fry about his book here. You can watch an interview on the ECW YouTube page here.

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