Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Abraham Lincoln: A Life

by Thomas Keneally

From the publisher:
The ideal concise biography of an American icon — now available in paperback for the bicentennial of his birth

The self-made man from a log cabin, the great orator, the Emancipator, the Savior of the Union, the martyr—Lincoln’s story is at the very heart of American history. But who was he, really? In this outstanding biography, award-winning author Thomas Keneally follows Lincoln from his impoverished birth through his education and presidency. From the development of his political philosophy to his troubled family life and his actions during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is an incisive study of a turning point in our history and a revealing portrait of a pivotal figure.

"They Have Killed Papa Dead!": The Road to Ford's Theatre, Abraham Lincoln's Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance

by Anthony Pitch

From the publisher:
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is a central drama of the American experience. Its impact is felt to this day, and the basic story is known to all. Anthony Pitch’s thrilling account of the Lincoln conspiracy and its aftermath transcends the mere facts of that awful night during which dashing actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head and would-be assassin Lewis Payne butchered Secretary of State William Seward in the bed of his own home. “They Have Killed Papa Dead!” transports the reader to one of the most breathtaking moments in history, and reveals much that is new about the stories, passions, and times of those who shaped this great tragedy.

Virtually every word of Anthony Pitch’s account is based on primary source material: new quotes from previously unpublished diaries, letters and journals – authentic contemporary voices writing with freshness and clarity as eyewitnesses or intimate participants – new images, a new vision and understanding of one of America’s defining moments. With an unwavering fidelity to historical accuracy, Pitch provides new confirmation of threats against the president-elect’s life as he traveled to Washington by train for his first inauguration, and a vivid personal account of John Wilkes Booth being physically restrained from approaching Lincoln at his second inauguration. Perhaps most chillingly, new details come to light about conditions in the special prison where the civilian conspirators accused of participating in the Lincoln assassination endured tortuous conditions in extreme isolation and deprivation, hooded and shackled, before and even during their military trial. Pitch masterfully synthesizes the findings of his prodigious research into a tight, gripping narrative that adds important new insights to our national story.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best American History Essays on Lincoln

by the Organization of American Historians, Sean Wilentz (Editor)

From the publisher:
This new volume in the Best American History Essays series brings together classic writing from top American historians on one of our greatest presidents. Ranging from incisive assessments of his political leadership, to explorations of his enigmatic character, to reflections on the mythos that has become inseparable from the man, each of these contributions expands our understanding of Abraham Lincoln and shows why he has been such an object of enduring fascination. Contributions include: James McPherson on Lincoln the military strategist; Richard Hofstadter on the Lincoln legend; Edmund Wilson on his contribution to American letters; John Hope Franklin on the Emancipation Proclamation; James Horton on Lincoln and race; David M. Potter on the secession; Richard Current on Lincoln's political genius; Mark Neely on Lincoln and civil liberties.

Douglass and Lincoln: How a Revolutionary Black Leader and a Reluctant Liberator Struggled to End Slavery and Save the Union

by Paul and Stephen Kendrick

From the publisher:
This book charts the influence Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had on each other and on the nation altered the course of slavery and the outcome of the Civil War.

Although Abraham Lincoln deeply opposed the existence of slavery, he saw his mission throughout much of the Civil War as preserving the Union, with or without slavery. Frederick Douglass, a former slave, passionately believed the war’s central mission to be the total abolition of slavery. During their meetings between 1863 and 1865, and through reading each other’s speeches and letters, they managed to forge a strong, mutual understanding and respect that helped convince Lincoln the war could not be truly won without black soldiers and permanent emancipation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War

by Aaron Sheehan-Dean

From the publisher:
There are few events as central to the American historical consciousness as the Civil War, which is a fascinating area of interest for students and general readers alike. One of the most efficient ways to study a war is with an atlas; however, most of the atlases devoted to this period focus almost exclusively on military movements and are prohibitively expensive for use in undergraduate courses. Offering a striking and reasonably priced alternative to these books, the Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War is the only atlas that includes data maps and covers key issues before and after the war years. It balances military and non-military coverage, presenting maps that deal with political and social changes as well as campaign and battle maps.

Laid out chronologically and representing the complexity of the war both visually and textually, Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War is an ideal study aid. Through detailed presentation of physical geography, it highlights the role of the landscape in troop movements and in social and demographic developments. Students can follow all the major campaigns of both the eastern and western theaters, examine the tactical movements in the major battles, and explore the geographic patterns behind issues like emancipation, occupation, and internal conflicts. The atlas features maps dealing with such subjects as economic capacity (both agricultural and industrial), enlistment rates, and the movement of escaped slaves. The maps also integrate information on the divisions that existed within the North and the South themselves.

Accessible to students with limited geographic knowledge, the maps are clearly labeled, with key features marked. Each map is accompanied by a short narrative that provides helpful contextual information.

Featuring uniquely comprehensive coverage, the Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War includes several maps situating the conflict in its antebellum origins as well as maps--of politics, sharecropping, and race relations--that extend the story through the end of Reconstruction. Ideal for use in U.S. Civil War History, Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History courses, this volume offers both novice and more experienced students new perspectives on the most significant events and circumstances of the era.

Aaron Sheehan-Dean is a Professor of History at the University of North Florida.

"This unique atlas includes the usual maps of military campaigns and battles--but much more besides. The maps illustrating political and social developments during Reconstruction as well as the Civil War are a valuable feature not found in other atlases. The essays accompanying each map offer a concise history of the era as an added bonus."--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"This atlas meets a longstanding need in the field of Civil War-era studies by presenting a wealth of military, political, social, and economic information in an easy-to-use format. Its combination of clear maps and Aaron Sheehan-Dean's perceptive accompanying text should appeal to a wide audience of both beginning and veteran students."--Gary W. Gallagher, author of Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten

"I was initially skeptical of the need for another Civil War atlas. This one provides easy-to-understand maps and text for the general student. It simplifies some complex information without being simplistic."--Mackubin Thomas Owens, Professor of National Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College

Monday, December 1, 2008

Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide

by Ethan S. Rafuse

From the publisher:
In September 1862 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac conducted one of the truly great campaigns of the Civil War. At South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam, North and South clashed in engagements whose magnitude and importance would earn this campaign a distinguished place in American military history. The siege of Harpers Ferry produced the largest surrender of U.S. troops in the nation’s history until World War II, while the day-long battle at Antietam on September 17 still holds the distinction of being the single bloodiest day of combat in American history.

This invaluable book provides a clear, convenient, stop-by-stop guide to the sites in Maryland and West Virginia associated with the Antietam campaign, including excursions to Harpers Ferry and South Mountain. Thorough descriptions and analyses, augmented with vignettes and numerous maps, convey the mechanics as well as the human experience of the campaign, making this book the perfect companion for both serious students of the Civil War and casual visitors to its battlefields.

Ethan S. Rafuse is an associate professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author of several books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union, and is the coeditor of The Ongoing Civil War: New Versions of Old Stories.

"Excellent guides at a reasonable price, written by experts on the battle."—James Durney, Suncoast Civil War Society Newsletter

“A refreshing and original study of America’s bloodiest day that is free of the clich├ęs found in some previous works on this subject. Using original sources and consulting the latest scholarship on Antietam, Rafuse has written a superb battle and campaign study.”—Ted Alexander, chief historian of Antietam National Battlefield

“Insightful and informed, written in a graceful style, with excellent maps, Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide will be an invaluable resource for the Civil War aficionado, as well as the casual visitor to the battlefield.”—Edwin C. Bearss, chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service

“Teems with incisive narratives, telling vignettes, and astute analysis. First-time visitors and seasoned students of the Civil War alike can learn much by consulting this work before, during, and after they tour the site of the costliest single day in American military history.”—Carol Reardon, professor of military history at Pennsylvania State University

More Damning than Slaughter: Desertion in the Confederate Army

by Mark A. Weitz

From the publisher:
More Damning than Slaughter is the first broad study of desertion in the Confederate army.

Incorporating extensive archival research with a synthesis of other secondary material, Mark A. Weitz confronts a question never fully addressed until now: did desertion hurt the Confederacy? Coupled with problems such as speculation, food and clothing shortages, conscription, taxation, and a pervasive focus on the protection of local interests, desertion started as a military problem and spilled over into the civilian world.

Fostered by a military culture that treated absenteeism leniently early in the war, desertion steadily increased and by 1863 reached epidemic proportions. A Union policy that permitted Confederate deserters to swear allegiance to the Union and then return home encouraged desertion. Equally important in persuading men to desert was the direct appeal from loved ones on the home front - letters from wives begging soldiers to come home for harvests, births, and other events.

By 1864 deserter bands infested some portion of every Confederate state. Preying on the civilian population, many of these bands became irregular military units that frustrated virtually every effort to subdue them. Ultimately, desertion not only depleted the Confederate army but also threatened 'home' and undermined civilian morale.

By examining desertion, Weitz assesses how deteriorating southern civilian morale and growing unwillingness to contribute goods and services to the war led to defeat.

Mark A. Weitz is the former director of the Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College. He is the author of "A Higher Duty: Desertion among Georgia Troops" during the American Civil War

Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories

by Ronald S. Coddington

From the publisher:

"A charming book for enthusiasts, and a tribute to the excellent detective work of the author." -- Elizabeth D. Leonard, Colby College

"Ronald S. Coddington has scored a masterpiece again. As a follow-up to his much applauded Faces of the Civil War featuring Union soldiers and sailors, he has authored a sequel. This time Confederates are center stage as they proudly pose for the all-important cartes de visite that are as treasured today by collectors and buffs as by their home folks and comrades of long ago. Complementing these are biographical profiles that inform but do not overwhelm, reminding us that each haunting face is a real person who lived, served and died many years ago." -- Edwin C. Bearss, National Park Service

"With his meticulous research and a journalist's eye for good stories, Ron Coddington has brought new life to Civil War photographic portraits of obscure and long-forgotten Confederates whose wartime experiences might otherwise have been lost to history. This is more than just a fine compilation of Civil War photographs." -- Bob Zeller, Center for Civil War Photography

"Ron Coddington has produced a fine new volume that will take its place beside William A. Albaugh's Confederate Faces and several other Confederate photographic histories. Faces of the Confederacy continues the tradition of publishing Confederate soldier portraits, but instead of the standard fare of somewhat small photographs and brief captions, he provides us with full page pictures and the thoroughly researched stories of each individual depicted, widening our understanding of these men far beyond the normal presentation. In the world of Civil War photography, it is rare to find something that is truly new, but this book fits that bill." -- Les Jensen, West Point Museum

On to Atlanta: The Civil War Diaries of John Hill Ferguson, Illinois Tenth Regiment of Volunteers

by John Hill Ferguson (Author), Janet Correll Ellison (Editor), Mark A. Weitz (Editor)

From the publisher:
Historians have shown us the drama and sweep of the swathe Sherman's March cut through the South. Officers have bequeathed us accounts of what happened in strategic and practical terms. But for a gritty, day-by-day, on-the-ground view of what the march to Atlanta meant to the common soldier, nothing can compare to the diary of an enlisted man like John Hill Ferguson.

A Scottish immigrant and a U.S. citizen since 1856, Ferguson enlisted in the Illinois Veteran Volunteers in 1860 and shortly afterward began to keep a diary. The annotated entries presented here, from 1864 and 1865, describe life in the Tenth Illinois as the troops made their way through the Carolinas and Georgia under Sherman. In these pages the details of Civil War soldiering become real, immediate, and personal, as do the daily dramas of life on the march. Smallpox struck Ferguson's unit early on, decimating his company; food, when there was any, was invariably poor; and always Confederate defenders waited up ahead, exacting a heavy toll on the advancing Northerners. These events and details, conveyed with all the force of Ferguson's fine intellect and superior powers of observation, offer an unforgettable firsthand view of that savage contest.

Reluctant Partners: Nashville and the Union, 1863–1865

by Walter T. Durham

From the publisher:
In 1862, Nashville became the first Southern state capital to be captured by the Union Army; that occupation would not end until after the Civil War's conclusion in 1865. In two incisive books, first published more than twenty years ago and available once more for a new generation of readers, Walter T. Durham traces occupied Nashville's reluctant transition from Rebel stronghold to partner of the Union.

Together, Nashville and Reluctant Partners highlight the importance of local history within Civil War scholarship and assess the impact of the war on people other than combat soldiers and places other than battlefields. Nashville examines the first seventeen months of the Union occupation, showing how the local population coped with the sudden presence of an enemy force. It also explores the role of military governor Andrew Johnson and how he asserted his authority over the city. Reluctant Partners depicts a city coming to grips with the rapidly fading prospect of a Confederate victory and how, faced with this reality, its citizens began to cooperate with Johnson and the Union. Their reward was a booming economy and scant battle damage.

With new prefaces discussing the two decades of scholarship that have emerged since these books' original appearance, these volumes offer an absorbing view of Union occupation at the most local of levels. Durham's volumes remain at the forefront of reconsidering the Civil War in the Upper South. Students and scholars of the Civil War-particularly in its social dimensions-as well as devotees of Tennessee history will find these new editions invaluable.

Walter T. Durham is the author of seventeen books, including Balie Peyton of Tennessee: Nineteenth-Century Politics and Thoroughbreds and Volunteer Forty-niners: Tennesseans and the California Gold Rush. He has been the Tennessee state historian since 2002.

Nashville: The Occupied City, 1862-1863

by Walter T. Durham

From the publisher:
In 1862, Nashville became the first Southern state capital to be captured by the Union Army; that occupation would not end until after the Civil War's conclusion in 1865. In two incisive books, first published more than twenty years ago and available once more for a new generation of readers, Walter T. Durham traces occupied Nashville's reluctant transition from Rebel stronghold to partner of the Union.

Together, Nashville and Reluctant Partners highlight the importance of local history within Civil War scholarship and assess the impact of the war on people other than combat soldiers and places other than battlefields. Nashville examines the first seventeen months of the Union occupation, showing how the local population coped with the sudden presence of an enemy force. It also explores the role of military governor Andrew Johnson and how he asserted his authority over the city. Reluctant Partners depicts a city coming to grips with the rapidly fading prospect of a Confederate victory and how, faced with this reality, its citizens began to cooperate with Johnson and the Union. Their reward was a booming economy and scant battle damage.

With new prefaces discussing the two decades of scholarship that have emerged since these books' original appearance, these volumes offer an absorbing view of Union occupation at the most local of levels. Durham's volumes remain at the forefront of reconsidering the Civil War in the Upper South. Students and scholars of the Civil War-particularly in its social dimensions-as well as devotees of Tennessee history will find these new editions invaluable.

Walter T. Durham is the author of seventeen books, including Balie Peyton of Tennessee: Nineteenth-Century Politics and Thoroughbreds and Volunteer Forty-niners: Tennesseans and the California Gold Rush. He has been the Tennessee state historian since 2002.

Virginia at War, 1863

by William C. Davis (Editor), James I. Robertson (Editor)

From the publisher:
Between the epic battles of 1862 and the grueling and violent military campaigns that would follow, the year 1863 was oddly quiet for the Confederate state of Virginia. Only one major battle was fought on its soil, at Chancellorsville, and the conflict was one of the Army of Northern Virginia’s greatest victories. Yet the pressures of the Civil War turned the daily lives of Virginians—young and old, men and women, civilians and soldiers—into battles of their own.

Despite minimal combat, 1863 was an eventful year in Virginia history—Stonewall Jackson died within its borders and Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In Virginia at War, 1863, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. present these and other key events, as well as a discussion of the year’s military land operations to reveal the political, social, and cultural ramifications of the ongoing national conflict.

By this time, the war had profoundly transformed nearly every aspect of Virginia life and culture, from education to religion to commerce. Mounting casualties and depleted resources made the citizens of the Commonwealth feel the deprivations of war more deeply than ever. Virginia at War, 1863 surveys these often overlooked elements of the conflict. Contributors focus on the war’s impact on Virginia’s children and its newly freed slaves. They shed light on the origins of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, explore the popularity of scrapbooking as a form of personal recordkeeping, and consider the changing role of religion during wartime and the uncertain faith of Virginia’s Christians. The book concludes with the 1863 entries of the Diary of a Southern Refugee by Richmond’s Judith Brockenbrough McGuire.

At the midpoint of the Civil War, the hostility of this great American struggle had become an ingrained part of Virginia life. Virginia at War, 1863 is the third volume of a five-book series that reexamines the Commonwealth’s history as an integral part of the Confederacy. The series looks beyond military campaigns and tactics to consider how the war forever changed the people, culture, and society of Virginia.

The Making of a Southerner: William Barclay Napton's Private Civil War

by Christopher Phillips

From the publisher:
William B. Napton was an editor, lawyer, and state supreme court justice who lived in Missouri during the tumultuous American nineteenth century. The highly educated former New Jerseyite became the owner or trustee of nearly fifty slaves and a proslavery ideologue. His story offers insights into the process of southernization, one driven more by sectional ideology and politics than by elements of a distinctive southern culture.

Napton s southern evolution was only completed after he had constructed a politicized memory of the Civil War. By suffering for the South, he claimed by right what he could not by birth. Napton became a southerner by choice.

Christopher Phillips is Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of four previous books, including Missouri s Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West and coeditor of The Union on Trial: The Political Journals of Judge William Barclay Napton, 1829 1883, both available from the University of Missouri Press.