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Books on the Civil War

150 years after the beginning of the American Civil War, its impact still reverberates, as evidenced by the many books that continue to be written about it.  Here are just a few nonfiction works that have been recently published or added to our collection, along with selected novels set during this important and fascinating era.


  Midnight rising : John Brown and the raid that sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz.
Henry Holt and Co., 2011

Chronicles the 1859 raid by radical abolitionist John Brown on Harpers Ferry, revealing how his acts, deemed terrorism by the South, prompted a counterattack by Robert E. Lee and galvanized Northern supporters during Lincoln's election campaign.
  1861 : the Civil War awakening, by Adam Goodheart.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

Chronicles the revolution of ideas that preceded--and led to--the start of the Civil War, looking at a diverse cast of characters and the actions of citizens throughout the country in their efforts to move beyond compromise and end slavery.
  America aflame : how the Civil War created a nation, by David Goldfield.
Bloomsbury Press, 2011

A narrative history of the Civil War era outlines a provocative view that the conflict occurred as a result of a breakdown induced by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere, causing citizens to regard political differences as matters of good and evil to be fought at any cost.
  American oracle : the Civil War in the civil rights era / David W. Blight
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011
David Blight takes his readers back to the Civil War's centennial celebration to determine how Americans made sense of the suffering, loss, and liberation a century earlier. He shows how four of America's most incisive writers—Robert Penn Warren, Bruce Catton, Edmund Wilson, and James Baldwin—explored the gulf between remembrance and reality.
  A world on fire : Britian's crucial role in the American Civil War, by Amanda Foreman.
Random House, [2011], c2010

Presents a history of the role of British citizens in the American Civil War that offers insight into the interdependencies of both nations and how the Union worked to block diplomatic relations between England and the Confederacy.
  The Library of Congress illustrated timeline of the Civil War.
New York : Little, Brown, 2011

Featuring first-hand narrative accounts from those who experienced the front lines, this illustrated chronology of the Civil War features portraits of soldiers and politicians, and drafts of speeches in Abraham Lincoln's own handwriting.
  The Civil War : a concise history, by Louis P. Masur.
Oxford University Press, 2011.

A year-by-year chronicle of the Civil War highlights major political, social, and military events and looks at the causes and consequences of the conflict.
  The American Civil War : a military history, by John Keegan.
Alfred A. Knopf, c2009

Analyzes many puzzling aspects of the Civil War, from its mismatched sides to the absence of decisive outcomes for dozens of skirmishes, and offers insight into the war's psychology, ideology, and economics while discussing the pivotal roles of leadership and geography.
  Now the drum of war : Walt Whitman and his brothers in the Civil War, by Robert Roper
Walker & Co., 2008.

A profile of the archetypal Whitman family evaluates the ways in which their experiences reflected the progression of the Civil War, in an account that traces Walt's work as a nurse, his younger brother George's military service, and their correspondence with other family members.
  Bitterly divided : the South's inner Civil War, by David Williams.
New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, 2008

Discusses the division within the Confederacy between citizens in the Southern states who opposed secession and those who supported it, including the white poor, Southern Native Americans, and Southern free blacks.
  The slaves' war : the Civil War in the words of former slaves, by Andrew Ward.
Houghton Mifflin Co., 2008

Interweaving hundreds of interviews with excerpts from diaries, letters, and memoirs, a narrative history of the American Civil War captures the story of the conflict from the perspective of the African-American slaves who played a role, documenting the carnage of the battlefield, assessment of the military leaders of both sides, attitudes toward masters and liberators alike, and more.
  This republic of suffering : death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2008

Assesses the devastating impact of the enormous carnage of the Civil War on every aspect of American life from a material, political, intellectual, cultural, social, and spiritual perspective, from the logistical challenges of burying the battlefield dead to the evolution of a federal system of national cemeteries.
  Landscape turned red : the Battle of Antietam, by Stephen W. Sears.
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2003

A definitive study of the climactic and pivotal battle of Antietam offers a vivid account of the two armies, the soldiers and officers, and the bitter, bloody campaign and analyzes the impact of Antietam on the Civil War as a whole.
  Race and reunion : the Civil War in American memory, by David W. Blight.
Cambridge, Mass. : London : Harvard University Press, 2001

No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion.
  Lincoln at Gettysburg : the words that remade America, by Garry Wills.
New York : Simon & Schuster, c1992

An account of Lincoln's revolutionary speech describes how, in the space of 272 words, the President brought to bear the rhetoric of the Greek Revival, the categories of transcendentalism, and the imagery of the Rural Cemetary Movement.
  A stillness at Appomattox, by Bruce Catton.
New York : Anchor Books, 1990; First published: Doubleday, 1962

When first published in 1953, Bruce Catton, our foremost Civil War historian was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in nonfiction. This final volume of The Army of the Potomac trilogy relates the final year of the Civil War.
  The Civil War : a narrative / by Shelby Foote.
Random House, 2011; originally published 1958-1974
Random House publisher Bennett Cerf commissioned southern novelist Shelby Foote to write a short, one-volume history of the American Civil War. Thirty years and a million and a half words later—every word having been written out longhand with nib pens dipped into ink—Foote published the third and final volume of what has become the classic narrative of that epic war.


  My name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira.
Viking, 2010.

Traveling to Civil War-era Washington, D.C., to tend wounded soldiers and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon, headstrong midwife Mary receives guidance from two smitten doctors and resists her mother's pleas for her to return home.
  All other nights : a novel, by Dara Horn.
W.W. Norton & Co., 2009

Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, struggles with difficult moral questions when he is ordered to murder his own uncle, who has been plotting an assassination attempt against President Lincoln.
  Seen the glory : a novel of the Battle of Gettysburg, by John Hough, Jr.
Simon & Schuster, 2009.

Brothers Luke and Thomas Chandler, the sons of an abolitionist father from Martha's Vineyard, find their service for the Union in the Civil War marked by a secret that Luke shares with the family's African-American housekeeper.
  March : a novel, by Geraldine Brooks.
Viking, 2005.

In a story inspired by the father character in "Little Women" and drawn from the journals and letters of Louisa May Alcott's father, a man leaves behind his family to serve in the Civil War and finds his beliefs challenged by his experiences.
  The march : a novel, by E.L. Doctorow.
Random House, c2005

Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's devastating march through Georgia and the Carolinas during the final years of the Civil War has a profound impact on the outcome of the war, in a richly textured, evocative historical novel that captures the full experience of the diverse characters caught up in the struggle.
  Cold mountain, by Charles Frazier.
Atlantic Monthly Press, c1997.

Based on local history and family stories passed down by the author's great-great-grandfather, Cold Mountain is the tale of a wounded soldier Inman, who walks away from the ravages of the war and back home to his prewar sweetheart, Ada.
  The killer angels, by Michael Shaara.
Ballantine Books, 2001, c1974.

Incisive portraits of Lee, Longstreet, Meade, and other Civil War leaders are interwoven with rich historical detail to provide a fictional recreation of the bloody battle at Gettysburg, in a new hardcover edition of the Pulizer Prize-winning historical novel.

"Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War", has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.




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