The number of books published concerning the Civil War or some aspect of that conflict is staggering. Books continue to appear on a regular basis which shows no sign of diminishing in the foreseeable future. Even here in England a quick tour of my local book shop revealed no fewer than 28 Civil War and related titles. For this reason, without extensive research of primary material, it is very hard for an author to come up with anything that has not been covered before. The potential author is therefore faced with conducting painstaking primary research, covering a less prominent aspect of the conflict, or, alternatively places a novel interpretation on existing well-covered fields of research, in an attempt to distinguish their book from all the others on the shelf. Edward Bonekemper’s book is clearly one of the latter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.