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  • Looking for a book on the Civil War

    Sorry for cross posting, (this thread appears in the Civil War Forum as well) but I figured I'd give this forum a shot as well...

    As a Canadian, my knowledge of the American Civil War is somewhat limited (it wasn't really covered in depth in school... that and school was some 20 odd years ago).

    Recently, I've developed an interest in finding out a little more about this conflict. My interest has always been predominantly about the Great War and I have read fairly extensively about it. John Keegans "The First World War" (as well as his book "the Second World War") is still one of my favorites.

    What I'm looking for is a general overview of the war; something that covers the background, major battles and major players in the conflict, much like Keegans or Strachan's books do for other conflicts. Length doesn't scare me off (I generally won't buy a book under 400 pages, usually double that). I don't really want anything that centers on one battle or one commander; that's something I'll look into once I have a little more background on the conflict.

    I figured this was the forum to start my search. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

  • #2
    Well, the absolute best overview IMHO, would be Shelby Foote's The Civil War trilogy. It is a massive read but well worth the time and effort. He writes about all aspects of the war and gives you info on campaigns and battles that you normally don't come across in other overviews. His writing style is very readable but at the same time not dumbed down. It truly is a stunning achievement.

    The first volume is: The Civil War-Fort Sumter to Perryville and runs 810 pages without counting the bibliography and index.

    The second volume is: The Civil War-Fredericksburg to Meridian and runs 966 pages.

    The third volume is: The Civil War-Red River to Appomattox and runs 1,060 pages.

    You said length doesn't scare you. Seriously though, you can't go wrong with these three books. If you really get into them, they read like novels and you'll finish them off in no time.
    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Frankenstein View Post
      Sorry for cross posting, (this thread appears in the Civil War Forum as well) but I figured I'd give this forum a shot as well...

      As a Canadian, my knowledge of the American Civil War is somewhat limited (it wasn't really covered in depth in school... that and school was some 20 odd years ago).

      Recently, I've developed an interest in finding out a little more about this conflict. My interest has always been predominantly about the Great War and I have read fairly extensively about it. John Keegans "The First World War" (as well as his book "the Second World War") is still one of my favorites.

      What I'm looking for is a general overview of the war; something that covers the background, major battles and major players in the conflict, much like Keegans or Strachan's books do for other conflicts. Length doesn't scare me off (I generally won't buy a book under 400 pages, usually double that). I don't really want anything that centers on one battle or one commander; that's something I'll look into once I have a little more background on the conflict.

      I figured this was the forum to start my search. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
      I agree, Shelby Foote's work is probably considered the bench mark if you're looking for a survery approach to the War. Informative, researched and an interesting writing approach. Before Foote, probably Bruce Catton's trilogy was the choice, and is still an excellent work if, for some reason, Foote's is unavailable to you.

      Your knowledge of the Great War will come in handy when applying many of the same concepts to the "Epic Stuggle". Enjoy
      My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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      • #4
        If you want books on soldiers life GO with the life of Billy Yank or Johnny Reb, by Bill Irving Wiley. I picked up the Johnny Reb volume at a flee market when I visited my uncle in Alaska and got the other one from the local library. both are good reads.

        I also recommend the Shelby Foote trilogy though I have not been able to read them as of yet.

        Matt
        "We Will Stay Here, If We Must All Go to Hell Together"
        -Col. John R. Cooke, 27th NC

        Avatar: My Grandfather on the right. His twin on the left. Their older brother in the middle. In their Navy Blues

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        • #5
          I thought the Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson was pretty informative and interesting for a civil war novice like me.

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          • #6
            McPherson
            Gabor Borritt
            Foote
            Catton
            Bell Wiley

            All Excellent writers on the Civil War...Any one will be a good place to start.
            Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

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            • #7
              Shelby Foote's "The Civil War" will be around for centuries much like Thucydides' "The Peloponnesian War". However, if you are wanting something shorter, I would recommend "Lincoln and His Generals" by T. Harry Williams.

              rna
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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