Author Topic: In Need of a Good Civil War Book  (Read 900 times)

Offline RitaRose1945

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In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« on: November 25, 2012, 07:01:45 PM »
Preferrably for my Kindle, but otherwise something I can maybe get at the library.  I'm not a patient person, though I'm working on it, but I want patience NOW!

To preface, I was educated by the public school system in Southern California during the 1970s (smirk), so what history I learned was probably subject to so much bleach that it had holes in it.  Toss in the fact that I didn't become a fan of history until I was in my 40s, and I'm pretty much clueless at an age when I really shouldn't be.

***SPOILER ALERT***


The Boyfriend wanted to go see the movie Lincoln today, and it sounded interesting, so we went.  While I liked the movie from a cinematic standpoint, and I know Spielberg did awesome stuff like perfectly replicate Lincoln's office and use his actual pocket watch, I can't help but feel it was the Hollywood version of the facts.  It just didn't feel... right.  Too much "absolute good guys and absolute bad guys" without ever really mentioning any other reasons why the war was going on, just that the whole thing was over slavery, and I'm just not buying that.  In any conflict, there are usually a multitude of reasons "why".

So... any recommendations for good books with a more insighful explanation as to what was going on?  Again, if I can get it on Kindle or at a standard library, that would be great, but if you know of a book that's a must read and won't cost me an arm and half my leg, I'd love to know about it as well.

Thanks in advance!

Offline Cooter Brown

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Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2012, 07:46:51 PM »
Thanks, Cooter.  I looked at the preview, and it seems to be very well written, so it's definitely on the list!

Offline Cooter Brown

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 08:06:46 PM »
A good single volume would be Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. Lots of context.

For a very different perspective on Lincoln, there's The Real Lincoln: by Thomas DiLorenzo.
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Offline Chemsoldier

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2012, 08:18:38 PM »
Foote's series is the best if you are willing to read more than one volume.  Battle Cry Freedom is pretty focused on the slavery issue, but if you want a single volume history of the Civil War it is hard to beat.

If you want some non-fiction television and you do Netflix on demand or have access to a library that carries it, Ken Burns' 1990 documentary "The Civil War" is also amazing.
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Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2012, 08:22:09 PM »
Great ideas, guys!  I knew this was the best place to ask!

Offline nkawtg

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2012, 10:17:48 PM »
Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara

For an alternative look at the civil war take a look at; Gettysburg, Grant Comes East, Never Call Retreat by Newt Gingrich
What's different here is Newt asks the question "What if Lee won at Gettysburg"?
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Offline 4bull

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2012, 08:59:16 PM »
Im hunting , yella rag boys. one guy ends up fighting on both sides .

Offline Ken325

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2012, 02:04:32 AM »
Killer Angles by Mike Shaara is the best in my opinion.  It is a fictionalized, but very well researched account of Gettysburg from the perspective of the generals involved. Jeff Shaara is his son and he wrote Gods and generals.

Offline 11 Bravo

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2012, 05:19:35 AM »
My girlfriend just finished, "True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plundering, and Abuse"......by Tobin Buhk.   It's a specialized book on the dark side of certain events by both sides in the war. She loved it.....
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Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2012, 07:31:11 AM »
I'm getting a great list going for the library this weekend, and I started watching the Ken Burns documentary last night (good stuff, by the way).

You guys are the best!

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2012, 10:51:08 PM »
I just finished "Jack Hinson's One Man War" and it was super.  Being raised in the NW I was only exposed to the Union perspective in education, so this was really my first detailed view into a Southerner's perspective. Excellent!

The plot line is that Jack Hinson is a well to do tobacco farmer in the Between The Rivers area of northern TN and southern KY, that is fairly isolated from rest of country before the war, but at a strategic juncture of three rivers.  He is a southerner ut does not support secession so he is actually friendly to US Grant in the first battle in the area.  But occupying Union forces rashly and brutally murder two of his sons and he goes on a revenge campaign as a citizen sniper and racks up over 100 kills. Goes into great detail about the rural and town life in the area, various sentiments regarding slavery, the war, and impact to individuals.

My wife and I went to see Lincoln last night.  It was very slow for most of the movie, mostly about the struggle in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment (watching legislation being debated and passed is not exciting).  As mentioned above, it focuses almost exclusively on slavery as the issue driving the war and even as a northerner I have never seen it portrayed so one-sided.  It really felt like a northeasterner do gooder version of the war.  In most books I have read of Revolutionary and Civil War times the northern slave owners were no great examples either, yet in the movie the northern slaves are treated with dignity and deference which I highly doubt was the case in general (perhaps a few owners did).  And I doubt Lincoln's house slave actually lectured him on "her people".  So it drips of northern whites almost in awe of their black slaves, but I suspect reality was a bit more harsh and less dignified for them in Washington, even by the northern Congressmen.

There were some interesting things such as the realism of the sets as also mentioned previously, and the fact that the idea of women's suffarage was more shocking to legislators than that of the negroes.  One of the southerners makes a fantastic rhetorical question to Lincoln after passage of the 13th Amendment while discussing surrender/reconstruction.  Lincoln waxes on upon the inevitability of freedom through democracy and the southerner asks, "Mr. Lincoln, was it democracy that got your amendment passed or threats and bribes?"  Wow.

I expect the NE liberals will love the movie and southerners will be greatly offended by the portrayals. As a NWer I am just glad I don't live anywhere near the liberal east coast and wish I wasn't so close to California.

The Jack Hinson book was far more entertaining and authentic (although the author is obviously an abashed fan of Hinson; I am too now).
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Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: In Need of a Good Civil War Book
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2012, 07:34:14 AM »
My wife and I went to see Lincoln last night.  It was very slow for most of the movie, mostly about the struggle in Congress to pass the 13th Amendment (watching legislation being debated and passed is not exciting).  As mentioned above, it focuses almost exclusively on slavery as the issue driving the war and even as a northerner I have never seen it portrayed so one-sided.  It really felt like a northeasterner do gooder version of the war.  In most books I have read of Revolutionary and Civil War times the northern slave owners were no great examples either, yet in the movie the northern slaves are treated with dignity and deference which I highly doubt was the case in general (perhaps a few owners did).  And I doubt Lincoln's house slave actually lectured him on "her people".  So it drips of northern whites almost in awe of their black slaves, but I suspect reality was a bit more harsh and less dignified for them in Washington, even by the northern Congressmen.

It sounds like I was raised with pretty much the same education as you, though I was in California.  Even given my (embarassing) lack of historical knowledge, my take on the movie was about the same.  It just felt very whitewashed and simplified, like Dudley Do-Right and Snidely Whiplash instead of real people with a variety of concerns.  Anytime you have absolute good guys and bad guys, I'm suspect.

Thanks for the book recomendation, too!