Well, new to my school’s library and not mine. Thanks to Kevin Levin’s “Best of” lists over the years I am trying to improve my school’s Civil War offerings so when my students do research on a Civil War soldier they have some reliable resources at their disposal. Now granted, I do not expect many if any of my students to read these books cover to cover but I hope these books in part or in whole will add to their research and understanding of the time period they are writing about.
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner - Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln’s lifelong engagement with the nation’s critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln’s greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth. 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations; 3 maps
Haunted by Atrocity: Civil War Prisons in American Memory by Benjamin Cloyd – During the Civil War, approximately 56,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in enemy military prison camps. Even in the midst of the war’s shocking violence, the intensity of the prisoners’ suffering and the brutal manner of
their deaths provoked outrage, and both the Lincoln and Davis administrations manipulated the prison controversy to serve the exigencies of war. As both sides distributed propaganda designed to convince citizens of each section of the relative virtue of their own prison system–in contrast to the cruel inhumanity
of the opponent–they etched hardened and divisive memories of the prison controversy into the American psyche, memories that would prove difficult to uproot. In Haunted by Atrocity, Benjamin G. Cloyd deftly analyzes how Americans have remembered the military prisons of the Civil War from the war itself to the present, making a strong case for the continued importance of the great conflict in contemporary America.
Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 by Kenneth Noe - After the feverish mobilization of secession had faded, why did Southern men join the Confederate army? Kenneth Noe examines the motives and subsequent performance of “later enlisters.” He offers a nuanced view of men who have often been cast as less patriotic and less committed to the cause, rekindling the debate over who these later enlistees were, why they joined, and why they stayed and fought.
The Gentlemen and The Roughs: Violence, Honor and Manhood in the Union Army by Lorien Foote - during the Civil War, the Union army—like the society from which it sprang—appeared cohesive enough to withstand four years of grueling war against the Confederates and to claim victory in 1865. But fractiousness bubbled below the surface of the North’s presumably united front. Internal fissures were rife within the Union army: class divisions, regional antagonisms, ideological differences, and conflicting personalities all distracted the army from quelling the Southern rebellion.
Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo – The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful
Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrold - During the 1840s and 1850s, a dangerous ferment afflicted the North-South border region, pitting the slave states of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri against the free states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Aspects of this struggle–the underground railroad, enforcement of the fugitive slave laws, mob actions, and sectional politics–are well known as parts of other stories. Here, Stanley Harrold explores the border struggle itself, the dramatic incidents that it comprised, and its role in the complex dynamics leading to the Civil War.
** All book links take you to Amazon.com and all books descriptions are via Amazon.