Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Psychic Life of Abraham Lincoln

by Susan B. Martinez

From the publisher:
In dreams, he foresaw his sudden death. He consulted oracles, and at age 22 was told by a seer that he would become President of the United States.

Obscurantists and historians have dismissed Abraham Lincoln's psychic involvements which, in his own time, were profound state secrets. But Lincoln's rise to power coincided with the Great Age of Spiritualism and, as a Mystical Unionist, he felt he was controlled by "some other power."

Trauma and heartbreak opened the psychic door for this otherworldly President, whose precognitive dreams, evil omens, and trancelike states are carefully documented here in this bold yet poignant chronicle of tragic beginnings, White House seances, and paranormal eruptions of the Civil War era.

Aided by the deathbed memoir of his favorite medium, Lincoln's remarkable psychic experiences come to life with communications from beyond, ESP, true and false prophecies, as well as thumbnail sketches of the most influential spiritualists in Lincoln's orbit. Surveying clairvoyant incidents in Lincoln's life from cradle to grave, the book also examines the Emancipation Proclamation and the unseen powers that moved pen to hand for its historic signing into law.

SUSAN B. MARTINEZ, Ph.D., is an independent scholar, journalist, and activist who received her doctorate in Anthropology from Columbia University in the 1970s. Raised by agnostic/intellectual parents in Brooklyn, New York, she found her way to Spiritualism in the early 1980s and has since researched and wrote on psychic phenomena, specializing in modern spiritualism in the Victorian era. Currently Book Review Editor at the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, she lives in the north Georgia mountains.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History

by Alan Huffman

From the publisher:
A powerful account of a surprisingly forgotten tragedy of the Civil War

A stunning wartime account of human endurance and adventure, and an exploration of just how much the human body and mind can take, Sultana follows several young Union soldiers through the Civil War and what was, for them, its unimaginably disastrous aftermath. We see them enlist and then almost immediately be plunged into a cascading series of wartime horrors: Battle, trauma, prison camp, and, finally, the sinking of the Sultana, the steamboat that was taking them back home.

On an April night in 1865, the Sultana slowly moved up the dark Mississippi, its overtaxed engines straining under the weight of a human cargo that included an estimated twenty-four hundred passengers—more than six times the number it was designed to carry. Most were weak, emaciated Union soldiers, recently paroled from Confederate prison camps, on their way home after enduring the violence of war. At two a.m., three of Sultana's four boilers exploded. Within twenty minutes, it went down in fire and water, taking an estimated seventeen hundred lives.

The sinking of the Sultana remains the worst maritime disaster in American history, yet due to a confluence of contemporary events (Lincoln had recently been assassinated and the war had ended), it soon faded into relative obscurity. Now Alan Huffman presents this harrowing story against the backdrop of the endless suffering already endured by its survivors. Using contemporary research as well as digging deep into archives and family keepsakes, Huffman paints a gripping portrait of the young men who made it home alive.

Alan Huffman is a freelance journalist and the author of the highly acclaimed Mississippi in Africa. He has appeared on numerous NPR shows and has contributed to many publications, including Smithsonian magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post Magazine. He lives in Bolton, Mississippi.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shooting the Civil War: Cinema, History and American National Identity

by Jenny Barrett

From the publisher:
No fewer than seven hundred Civil War films have been made by Hollywood from early silent days to the present, from the epoch-making Birth of a Nation, through The Red Badge of Courage and Gone With the Wind to the recent Glory, Ride with the Devil and Cold Mountain.

This readable and innovative book on the American Civil War as presented in Hollywood cinema goes deep into the best of these films, arguing that rather than belonging to a single genre, Civil War films are to be found across genres, as domestic melodramas, Westerns or combat films for example. As such, they have fresh insights to give into the war and into America's sense of itself.

Shooting the Civil War shows how these films create an American ancestor who is blameless and undertakes a process of reinscription into the American historical family. It also makes the remarkable revelation that no Civil War film yet made has had a central black character who survives the war, fathers the children of the future, and can stand as representative of the whole American people. To this extent, the book is saying, the Civil War remains a work in progress.

Jenny Barrett is Program Leader in Film Studies at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicago's Irish Legion: The 90th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War

by James B. Swan

From the publisher:
Extensively documented and richly detailed, Chicago’s Irish Legion tells the compelling story of Chicago’s 90th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the only Irish regiment in Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s XV Army Corps. Swan’s sweeping history of this singular regiment and its pivotal role in the Western Theater of the Civil War draws heavily from primary documents and first-person observations, giving readers an intimate glimpse into the trials and triumphs of ethnic soldiers during one of the most destructive wars in American history.

At the onset of the bitter conflict between the North and the South, Irish immigrants faced a wall of distrust and discrimination in the United States. Many Americans were deeply suspicious of Irish religion and politics, while others openly doubted the dedication of the Irish to the Union cause. Responding to these criticisms with a firm show of patriotism, the Catholic clergy and Irish politicians in northern Illinois—along with the Chicago press and community—joined forces to recruit the Irish Legion. Composed mainly of foreign-born recruits, the Legion rapidly dispelled any rumors of disloyalty with its heroic endeavors for the Union. The volunteers proved to be instrumental in various battles and sieges, as well as the marches to the sea and through the Carolinas, suffering severe casualties and providing indispensable support for the Union. Swan meticulously traces the remarkable journey of these unique soldiers from their regiment’s inception and first military engagement in 1862 to their disbandment and participation in the Grand Review of General Sherman’s army in 1865.

Enhancing the volume are firsthand accounts from the soldiers who endured the misery of frigid winters and brutal environments, struggling against the ravages of disease and hunger as they marched more than twenty-six hundred miles over the course of the war. Also revealed are personal insights into some of the war’s most harrowing events, including the battle at Chattanooga and Sherman’s famous campaign for Atlanta. In addition, Swan exposes the racial issues that affected the soldiers of the 90th Illinois, including their reactions to the Emancipation Proclamation and the formations of the first African American fighting units. Swan rounds out the volume with stories of survivors’ lives after the war, adding an even deeper personal dimension to this absorbing chronicle.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Last Confederate General: John C. Vaughn and His East Tennessee Cavalry

by Charles Larry Gordon

From the publisher:
The Last Confederate General presents the first biography of Confederate cavalry commander John Crawford Vaughn, from his birth in East Tennessee, through the Mexican War, the gold rush, and the War Between the States, to his return to Tennessee and his untimely death in Georgia.

In the mid-nineteenth century John Crawford Vaughn was one of the most famous men in Tennessee. He was the first man to raise a regiment in the state and one of the very last Confederate generals to surrender. History has not been kind to Vaughn, who finally emerges from the shadows in this absorbing assessment of his life and military career.

Follow Vaughn and his East Tennessee Cavalry to Manassas, Vicksburg, and other crucial battles as Larry Gordon makes use of new research and information to reveal the complete picture of Vaughn, including:

· Vaughn's hitherto unknown location on the field of crucial battles;

· His ability to overcome multiple battlefield wounds;

· His wife and family's incarceration as Union hostages;

· The effects of his anxiety over his family's incarceration on his performance as a military commander;

· His close friendship with Jefferson Davis-close enough for him to become Davis's escort during the final month of the war; and

· His importance as one of the few Confederate generals to return to Tennessee after Reconstruction, where he soon became president of the state senate.

Larry Gordon is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and Army War College; and a veteran of the Vietnam War, with many years of service in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States. Mr. Gordon, who works at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and has long been an interpretive volunteer at Manassas National Battlefield Park. He lives in Northern Virginia.

This book's exact release date is unknown but falls within this month.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What Shall We Do with the Negro?: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America

by Paul D. Escott

From the publisher:
Throughout the Civil War, newspaper headlines and stories repeatedly asked some variation of the question posed by the New York Times in 1862, "What shall we do with the negro?" The future status of African Americans was a pressing issue for those in both the North and in the South. Consulting a broad range of contemporary newspapers, magazines, books, army records, government documents, publications of citizens' organizations, letters, diaries, and other sources, Paul D. Escott examines the attitudes and actions of Northerners and Southerners regarding the future of African Americans after the end of slavery. "What Shall We Do with the Negro?" demonstrates how historians together with our larger national popular culture have wrenched the history of this period from its context in order to portray key figures as heroes or exemplars of national virtue.

Escott gives especial critical attention to Abraham Lincoln. Since the civil rights movement, many popular books have treated Lincoln as an icon, a mythical leader with thoroughly modern views on all aspects of race. But, focusing on Lincoln's policies rather than attempting to divine Lincoln's intentions from his often ambiguous or cryptic statements, Escott reveals a president who placed a higher priority on reunion than on emancipation, who showed an enduring respect for states' rights, who assumed that the social status of African Americans would change very slowly in freedom, and who offered major incentives to white Southerners at the expense of the interests of blacks.

Escott's approach reveals the depth of slavery's influence on society and the pervasiveness of assumptions of white supremacy. "What Shall We Do with theNegro?" serves as a corrective in offering a more realistic, more nuanced, and less celebratory approach to understanding this crucial period in American history.

Paul D. Escott is Reynolds Professor of History at Wake Forest University and the author of After Secession and Slavery Remembered, winner of the Mayflower Cup.

Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War

by David Herbert Donald

From the publisher:
Harvard Professor David Herbert Donald traces Sumner's life in this Pulitzer-Prize winning classic about a nation careening toward Civil War. In a period when senators often exercised more influence than presidents, Senator Charles Sumner was one of the most powerful forces in the American government. His uncompromising moral standards made him a lightning rod in an era fraught with conflict.

Sumner's fight to end slavery made him a hero in the North and stirred outrage in the South. In what was called the first blow of the Civil War, he was physically attacked by a colleague on the Senate floor. An advocate of international peace and a leader of educational and prison reform, Sumner refused to abandon the moral high ground, no matter what the cost. He used his office and influence to transform the United States during the most contentious and violent period in the nation's history.

David Herbert Donald is the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University. He has written over thirty books, including "Lincoln," (1996) which has sold well over 70,000 copies since 2002, and 9,078 copies in 2007 alone, and the Pulitzer-Prize winning "Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe."


by Applewood Books

From the publisher:
Over 60 images relating to the battle of Gettysburg in a full-color paperback. Part of Applewood's Pictorial America series, the book features images drawn from historical sources and include prints, paintings, illustrations, and photographs. This small gem is the ideal gift for anyone interested in a concise and compelling visual history of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.