A Review of The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2013, All Rights Reserved

Prolific writer Jennifer Chiaverini has been best known for her Elm Creek Quilts series. It includes two Civil War related books: The Union Quilters and The Runaway Quilt. Chiaverini has also written a Civil War novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, about Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave dressmaker in Washington City who became close to Mary Todd Lincoln (and President Lincoln). This novel focuses on the relationship between these two women.

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A Review of The Battle of Roanoke Island by Michael P. Zatarga

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Having made summer trips to the Outer Banks with my family since I was a boy, I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it. I knew only a little about the Civil War along the North Carolina coast from David Stick’s classic Graveyard of the Atlantic. Michael Zatarga, a historian formerly with the National Park Service, has written a short, concise book about one of the first Army-Navy amphibious operations in U.S. history. Although The Battle of Roanoke Island isn’t perfect, I did learn quite a bit from it.

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A Review of Valley of the Shadow by Ralph Peters

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer, journalist, and award-winning Civil War novelist. His Civil War novels include Cain at Gettysburg, Hell or Richmond, and the Owen Parry (pen name) mystery series. His latest novel is Valley of the Shadow. It covers the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, including Jubal Early’s raid on Washington.

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A Review of The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs by Robert O’Harrow Jr.

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved

One of the most amazing figures of the Civil War was Montgomery Meigs, the quartermaster of the Union army and one of the critical architects of its victory. Meigs’ life is recounted by Washington Post investigative reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr. in his book The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army.

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A Review of Civil War Monuments of Ohio by Harold A. George

By Marjorie R Wilson
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2006, All Rights Reserved

The author, Harold A. George, who is known for his in-depth Civil War programs, has photographed and indexed more than 270 Ohio Civil War monuments; 66 are featured here. Most of the illustrations are large enough for the viewer to see much detail. Each photo includes the memorial’s location, cost, and dedication date.

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A Review of “Behind Bayonets”: The Civil War in Northern Ohio by David D. Van Tassel and John Vacha

By Marjorie R. Wilson
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All rights reserved

“There is something behind bayonets…the affections of home – the prayers and blessings of the family circle – the active assistance of the women and children left at home.”

Major General James A Garfield

You may remember the 1998 Western Reserve Historical Society exhibit “Civil War, for God, Union and Glory.” The program was curated by Cleveland historian David Van Tassel, who expanded that research to create this book. Van Tassel died before finishing “Behind Bayonets”: The Civil War in Northern Ohio, and his family asked John Vacha, also a historian, to complete the work.

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The Best Book Ever Written About the Civil War: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Reviewed by Jon Thompson
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: On January 12, 2005, the subject of The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable’s annual Dick Crews Debate was “What is the best book ever written about the Civil War?” The article below is the text from one of five presentations made that evening.


Best book? Does that mean best research? Best scope? Best style? Biggest audience? Best reviews?

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Reviews of Gods and Generals and of Brass Pounders: The Young Telegraphers of the Civil War

By Gary Norman
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in the spring of 2000.


It is interesting how no two men view a similar experience in the exact same way and how technology exists as an underlying force that helps to both form and communicate the experiences of men. This is especially true during the time of the Civil War.

There are two books that I would like to introduce to the Roundtable which touch on the issue of the dissimilarity of similar experiences and how technology forms and communicates it. The first book is Gods and Generals, written by Jeff Shaara, who is the son of Michael Shaara, author of the award-winning The Killer Angels. The second book is Brass-Pounders: Young Telegraphers of the Civil War, written by Alvin F. Harlow. Both books are well written and both blur the threshold between historical fiction and nonfiction.

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A Review of Days of Defiance by Maury Klein

By Daniel Bonder
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved

Author’s note: The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable encourages members to submit book reviews. This assists members and those from other roundtables in choosing worthwhile reading from the thousands of books available on the Civil War. A while back, an anonymous member of the Cincinnati Civil War Roundtable wrote an interesting and informative review of the book A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman. It caught my attention, and I recently completed an enjoyable reading of this book. I feel that the best way to thank that member and the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable is to write a book review as well.


Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War by Maury Klein was published in 1997. Its heavily footnoted 430 pages trace the run-up to the Civil War. The vast majority of the book focuses on the time period from Lincoln’s election through the fall of Fort Sumter. There are flashbacks to several important historical events that helped to set the stage for secession. These included the election of James Buchanan, whose inaction and lack of leadership in the face of the gathering storm left little room for any other outcome but war.

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Churchill and the Civil War

By William F.B. Vodrey
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2002, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Sir Winston S. Churchill remains, four decades after his death, perhaps the most admired Englishman of all time. His indomitable leadership as British prime minister during World War II and his close personal ties to both Roosevelt and Truman are still remembered here; less well-known is the fact that his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American.

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