Adult Booklists


American Civil War

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1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History
by Charles Bracelen Flood Details
Historian and novelist Flood brings to life the drama of Lincoln's final year, in which he oversaw the final campaigns of the Civil war, was re-elected president, and laid out his vision for the nation's future in a reunified South and in the expanding West. Includes several black and white photographs.
A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868
by Anne S. Rubin Details
Exploring the creation, maintenance, and transformation of Confederate identity during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Rubin sheds new light on the ways in which Confederates felt connected to their national creation and provides a provocative example of what happens when a nation disintegrates and leaves its people behind to forge a new identity.
April 1865: The Month that Saved America
by Jay Winik Details
One month in 1865 witnessed the frenzied fall of Richmond, a daring last-ditch Southern plan for guerrilla warfare, Lee's harrowing retreat, and then, Appomattox. It saw Lincoln's assassination just five days later and a near-successful plot to decapitate the Union government, followed by chaos and coup fears in the North, collapsed negotiations and continued bloodshed in the South, and finally, the start of national reconciliation. In the end, April 1865 emerged as not just the tale of the war's denouement, but the story of the making of our nation.
Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla
by Albert E. Castel Details
One of the most notorious of Confederate guerrillas from Missouri, "Bloody Bill" Anderson was the perpetrator of the Centralia and Baxter Springs Massacres, as well as innumerable other atrocities in 1863-64. Using newly discovered material, the authors trace how a seemingly pleasant young man from Missouri was turned into a psychopathic murderer by a combination of personality, circumstance, accidents of war, and opportunity. Mythic figures of the American West abound in this biography -- from William Clarke Quantrill to Frank and Jesse James -- as they enter and influence Anderson's life.
Confederate Generals: Life Portraits
by George Cantor Details
An emerging trend in Civil War historiography concentrates on how the masses of ordinary citizens and soldiers coped with and reacted to our greatest national trial. If this collection of biographical sketches of 20 of the most prominent Confederate commanders goes against that trend, Civil War buffs will still find this an enjoyable and valuable read. Cantor, a columnist for the Detroit News and consultant to the History Channel, writes in a nonpedantic, easily digestible style.
Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War
by Ernest B. Furgurson Details
"Freedom Rising" is a fresh, intensely human account of how the Civil War transformed the nation’s capital from the debating forum for a loose union of states into the seat of a forceful central government. Before 1861, Washington was a dusty, muddy city of 60,000, joked about by urban sophisticates from New York and Boston. But at the onset of war, thousands of soldiers, job seekers, nurses, good-time girls, gamblers, and newly freed slaves poured in. For days, Washington was cut off from the North, and no one was sure whether it would become the capital of the Union or the Confederacy.
Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War
by Jack D. Coombe Details
Despite the subtitle, this book is a popular account of all Civil War naval combat on the Atlantic coast and ocean, from the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 through the final actions in 1865. Coombe ("Thunder Along the Mississippi") provides background on both the Union and Confederate navies, giving context for the Union blockade of Southern ports that touched off four years of naval actions.
Monitor: The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History
by James Tertius De Kay Details
Naval historian DeKay spins a good seaman's yarn about the making and fighting of the ironclads during the American Civil War. DeKay wants readers to believe that the significance of the Monitor lay less with the technology than in the battle it fought against the Confederate ironclad Merrimac in 1862, but, as he shows so well, innovations in ship design, screw propellers, and even waste disposal made the ironclad functional and helped point the way to modern naval warfare.
The American Civil War: A Military History
by John Keegan Details
While offering original and perceptive insights into psychology, ideology, demographics, and economics, Keegan reveals the war's hidden shape, a consequence of leadership, the evolution of strategic logic, and, above all, geography, the Rosetta Stone of his legendary decipherments of all great battles. The American topography, Keegan argues, presented a battle space of complexity and challenges virtually unmatched before or since. Out of a succession of mythic but chaotic engagements, he weaves an irresistible narrative illuminated with comparisons to the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and other conflicts.
The American Heritage New History of the Civil War
by Bruce Catton Details
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bruce Catton's unsurpassed narrative, evoking the sweep and drama of a nation at war, provides the basis for this book, which includes more than 800 contemporary photographs and sketches as well as magnificent paintings. The Civil War's battles and campaigns are painstakingly illustrated in three-dimensional maps that guide the reader through the four years of the struggle. With illustrations that range from photographs by Matthew Brady and sketches by soldiers at the front, to famous paintings by Winslow Homer, the book boasts an extraordinary breadth of pictures and artifacts culled from across the nation.
The Atlas of the Civil War
by James M. McPherson Details
Each clash of the Civil War is plotted on one of 200 specially commissioned color maps which show where the battles were fought, the kind of terrain, and who led the troops. Timelines provide accounts of the battles and maneuvers, and the accompanying text highlights the strategic aims and tactical considerations of the men in charge. Each battle map is cross-referenced to communications and locator maps that situate the fighting as it swept the country. There are about 200 photographs and numerous personal accounts describe the experiences of the soldiers in the field.
The Civil War Chronicl : The Only Day-by-Day Portrait of America's Tragic Conflict as Told by Soldiers, Journalists, Politicians, Farmers, Nurses, Slaves, and Other Eyewitnesses
by J. Matthew Gallman Details
In this moving day-by-day chronicle, we hear the real voices of the soldiers, nurses, farmers, laborers, slaves, and freed people who lived through America's most tragic conflict. This collection of the letters, diaries, speeches, telegrams, newspaper accounts, and official battlefield reports presents an astonishing array of perspectives and conflicting accounts of this very personal war. Hundreds of period black and white images enhance the accounts and help recapture the texture of life at all levels and on both sides of the Civil War.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Civil War
by Alan Axelrod Details
Noted historian Alan Axelrod takes readers back to the 19th century to tell the full story of the war that continues to hold the imagination of millions of Americans. In addition to information on the original causes of the war and basic facts about key generals, weaponry, and battles, the book also provides details on battlefields and historic sites, with photos and maps throughout.
The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference
by Margaret E. Wagner Details
This reference is unique in its inclusion of subjects generally absent in other works, such as the contributions of topographical engineers and mapmakers, and developments in surgery and medical care. Illustrated with some 100 photographs, drawings and maps, this academic text is accessible to general readers interested in American history and the Civil War.
The Most Fearful Ordeal: Original Coverage of the Civil War
by James M. McPherson Details
"The Most Fearful Ordeal" contains The New York Times's original coverage of the events of the Civil War, offering today's reader history as it was first being transmitted, via the newly invented telegraph, by reporters and other eyewitnesses on the scene. Here are the legendary figures and events as they first appeared in print, giving readers history's first draft: urgent, alive, reporting the passions and tensions of the moment, raw and unpolished.
The War was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War
by Joan E. Cashin Details
Though civilians constituted the majority of the nation's population and were intimately involved with almost every aspect of the war, we know little about the civilian experience of the Civil War. That experience was inherently dramatic. Southerners lived through the breakup of basic social and economic institutions, including, of course, slavery. Northerners witnessed the reorganization of society to fight the war. And citizens of the border regions grappled with elemental questions of loyalty that reached into the family itself.
These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory
by Thomas A. Desjardin Details
How did the story of Gettysburg evolve? How did the battle become a legend? And how much truth is behind the myth? Thomas A. Desjardin, a prominent Civil War historian and keen cultural observer, shows how flawed our knowledge of this enormous event has become, and why that has happened. It also shows how Americans have shaped, used, altered, and sanctified our national memory, fashioning the story of Gettysburg as a reflection of, and testimony to, our culture and our nation.
They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War
by DeAnne Blanton Details
This lively and authoritative book opens a hitherto neglected chapter of Civil War history, telling the stories of hundreds of women who adopted male disguise and fought as soldiers. It explores their reasons for enlisting; their experiences in combat, and the way they were seen by their fellow soldiers and the American public. Impeccably researched and narrated with verve and wit, "They Fought Like Demons" is a major addition to our understanding of the Civil War era.
Why the Confederacy Lost
by Gabor S. Boritt Details
With this brilliant review of how historians have explained the Southern defeat, the authors open a fascinating account by several leading historians of how the Union broke the Confederate rebellion. In every chapter, the military struggle takes center stage as the authors reveal how battlefield decisions shaped the very forces that many scholars (putting the cart before the horse) claim determined the outcome of the war.
Yankee Rebel: The Civil War Journal of Edmund Dewitt Patterson
by Edmund DeWitt Patterson Details
Edmund DeWitt Patterson was nineteen when the Civil War began. Born in Ohio, he had left home just after his 17th birthday and gone south to seek his fortune, first as a book salesman, then as a schoolmaster and clerk. When the war broke out, he volunteered for the army of the Confederacy, much to the dismay of his Unionist family. The day he enlisted he began a diary that, for the sharpness of its observations and the literary force of its narration, makes it a splendid firsthand account of the Civil War.
Updated 12/20/2011
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