Books I Read in 2023

Some of the 72 books I read in 2023.

Last year I shared a post listing the books that I read during 2022. I thought I would do the same this year. As I mentioned last year, my reasoning for doing this is to hopefully bring a previously unknown or overlooked book to someone’s attention, or just maybe, a listed title will strike enough curiosity in someone to encourage them to seek it out and read it.

This year I bested last year’s total by thirteen books to make a total of 72.

Like last year, I’ve bolded the titles of the books that I found particularly interesting or enlightening, offered a fascinating argument, or challenged me to think about new ideas.

Here’s hoping you see something you will want to read.

  1. Awaiting the Heavenly County: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death by Mark S. Schantz

  1. I Can’t Wait to Call You My Wife: African American Letters of Love and Family in the Civil War Era by Rita Roberts


  1. Pursuing John Brown: On the Trail of a Radical Abolitionist by Joyce Dyer

  1. The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom by H. W. Brands


  1. Buying and Selling Civil War Memory in Gilded Age America, edited by James Marten and Caroline Janney

  1. Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia by Thomas Healy


  1. Edward A. Wild and the African Brigade in the Civil War by Frances H. Casstevens


  1. Faces of Civil War Nurses by Ronald S. Coddington


  1. Plowshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730-1810 by James Sidbury


  1. William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia by William C. Kashatus


  1. Jumping the Broom: The Surprising Multicultural Origins of a Black Wedding Ritual by Tyler D. Parry


  1. A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and Madisons by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor


  1. Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930, edited by W. Fitzhugh Bundage


  1. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs)


  1. How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses by Mark M. Smith


  1. Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, edited by Gary W. Gallagher


  1. Delivered Under Fire: Absalom Markland and Freedom’s Mail by Candice Shy Hooper


  1. Scars on the Land: An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South by David Silkenat

  1. The Blue, the Gray, and Green: Toward an Environmental History of the Civil War, edited by Brian Allen Drake


  1. Untouched by the Conflict: The Civil War Letters of Singleton Ashenfelter, Dickinson College, edited by Jonathan W. White and Daniel Glenn


  1. Stephen Dodson Ramseur: Lee’s Gallant General by Gary W. Gallagher


  1. The Calculus of Violence: How Americans Fought the Civil War by Aaron Sheehan-Dean


  1. All Quiet on the Rappahannock: The Civil War Letters of Lt. Peter Hunt, 1861-1864, 1st Rhode Island Artillery, edited by Sandra A. Turgeon

24. A House Built By Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House by Jonathan W. White

25. James Montgomery: Abolitionist Warrior by Robert C. Conner


26. Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in the Civil War Era by Frances Clark and Rebecca Jo Plant

27. Civil War Field Artillery: Promise and Performance on the Battlefield by Earl J. Hess

28. At War with King Alcohol: Debating Drinking and Masculinity in the Civil War by Megan Bever


29. Through Blood and Fire: The Civil War Letters of Maj. Charles J. Mills, 1862-1865, edited by J. Gregory Acken

30. When Hell Came to Sharpsburg: The Battle of Antietam and Its Impact on the Civilians Who Called it Home by Stephen Cowie

31. Without Concealment, Without Compromise: The Courageous Lives of Black Civil War Surgeons by Jill L. Newmark


32. Battle: The Nature and Consequences of Civil War Combat, edited by Kent Gramm


33. Letters to Lizzie: The Story of Sixteen Men in the Civil War and the One Woman Who Connected Them All, edited by James M. Scythes

34. This Cruel War is Over: The Civil War Letters of Charles Harvey Brewster, edited by David W. Blight


35. Private No More: The Civil War Letters of John Lovejoy Murray, 102 USCI, edited by Sharon A. Roger


36. I Never Again Want to Witness Such Sights: The Civil War Letters of Lt. James A. Thomas, Adj. 107th Pennsylvania, edited by Mary Warner Thomas and Richard Sauers


37. Symbols of Freedom: Slavery and Resistance before the Civil War by Matthew J. Clavin

38. John Brown’s Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War by Jon-Erik Gilot and Kevin Pawlak


39. The Civil War Soldier and the Press, edited by Katrina J. Quinn and David B. Sachsman


40. Mr. Lincoln’s Army by Bruce Catton


41. Count the Dead: Coroners, Quants, and the Birth of Death as We Know It by Stephen Berry

42. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot


43. African Americans, Death, and the New Birth of Freedom: Dying during the Civil War and Reconstruction by Ashley Towle


44. Glory Road by Bruce Catton


45. Blue and Gray in Black and White by Brayton Harris


46. New Perspectives on Civil War Era Kentucky, edited by John David Smith


47. No Place for a Woman: Harriet Dame’s Civil War by Mike Pride

48. A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton


49. From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsylvania with Lee: The Civil War Diaries and Letters of St. Joseph Tucker Randolph by Peter C. Luebke


50. The Bone Ring: Civil War Journals of Colonel William James Leonard, edited by Gari Carter


51. Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia by Karida L. Brown


52. Georgia Boys with “Stonewall” Jackson: James Thomas Thompson and the Walton Infantry, edited by Aurelia Austin


53. A Civil War Road Trip of a Lifetime: Antietam, Gettysburg, and Beyond by John Banks

54. Final Resting Places: Reflections on the Meaning of Civil War Graves, edited by Brian Matthew Jordan and Jonathan W. White

55. From Binghampton to the Battlefield: The Civil War Letters of Rollin B. Truesdell, edited by Amy J. Truesdell


56. Faces of Union Soldiers at Culp’s Hill: Gettysburg’s Critical Defense by Joseph Stahl and Matthew Borders


57. The Last Fire-Eater: Roger A. Pryor and Search for a Southern Identity by William A. Link


58. Dear Sarah: Letters to Home from a Soldier of the Iron Brigade, edited by Coralou Peel Lassen


59. Like Grass Before the Scythe: The Life and Death of Sgt. William Remmel, 121st New York Infantry, edited by Robert Patrick Bender


60. Fugitive Slave on Trial: The Anthony Burns Case and Abolitionist Outrage by Earl M. Maltz


61. Love and Duty: Confederate Widows and the Emotional Politics of Loss by Angela Esco Elder

62. Letters Home: Henry Matrau of the Iron Brigade, edited by Marcia Reid-Green


63. Letters of a Civil War Surgeon, edited by Paul Fatout


64. Georgia Sharpshooter: The Civil War Diary and Letters of William Rhadamanthus Montgomery, edited by George Montgomery, Jr.


65. The 14th U.S. Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War: John Young Letters, edited by C. Russell Hunley


66. Charlie’s Civil War: A Private’s Trial by Fire in the 5th New York and 146th New York, edited by Charles Brandagee Livingstone


67. Ted Barclay, Liberty Hall Volunteers: Letters from the Stonewall Brigade, edited by Charles W. Turner


68. “This War is an Awful Thing. . . “: Civil War Letters of the National Guard – The 19th and 90th Pennsylvania Volunteers, edited by James Durkin


69. To Address You As My Friend: African Americans’ Letters to Abraham Lincoln, edited by Jonathan W. White

70. The Civil War Letters of George Washington Beidelman, edited by Catherine H. Vanderslice


71. The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union by Frank J. Cirillo

72. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

9 Responses to Books I Read in 2023

  1. A few years ago I felt proud to have read fifty books on the Civil War and Reconstruction. You exceeded that by quite a bit!

    1. Reading a book a week is impressive. Some of the letter collections honestly were not all that long and didn’t take as much time as the 300, 400, or 500 pagers.

  2. Out of the 76 about the only ones I had read were the Bruce Catton’s. Were some of them re-reads? Seems like Bruce Catton would have been read long ago…

  3. I was proud of my 24!!! That said, 3-4 were over 600 pages! Still, your list is impressive!

  4. By Lincoln’s long socks; I read about 1/4th of that last year! Scars on the Land interests me a lot, as well as Without Concealment. Is Awaiting the Heavenly County a reboot of This Republic of Suffering?

    1. I highly recommend both “Scars on the Land” and “Without Concealment, Without Compromise.” While there is some overlapping ideas between “Awaiting the Heavenly Country” and “This Republic of Suffering,” “Heavenly Country” has its own interpretations that I don’t remember seeing in “This Republic of Suffering.” “Heavenly Country” is truly a fantastic read. Thanks for sharing your comments!

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!