Thursday, March 15, 2012

Civil War, in non-fiction

As you know, March is One Book, One Town month here at the Trumbull Library, and since this year's book is Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, I thought I'd share some other titles in case you'd like to do some additional reading about the American Civil War.  If you're looking for a list of suggested fiction titles, you can check out my post here.  Today, it's all about non-fiction.

If you're interested in the Civil War from the points of view of the people who lived it, I cannot recommend highly enough The Civil War: the first year told by those who lived it, eds. Brooks D. Simpson, Stephen W. Sears, Aaron Sheehan Dean, and the second book in the series which was published this year, The Civil War: the second year told by those who lived it, ed. Stephen W. Sears.  These books are compilations of letters, diaries, military reports, speeches, articles, poems, songs, etc. at the time, and are absolutely fascinating, especially for American history junkies.  As a side note, Sears has written several other titles about the Civil War, including several dedicated to individual battles.

If you're looking to keep up with what everyone else is reading, Bill O'Reilly's best-seller Killing Lincoln: the shocking assassination that changed America forever gives a great historical narrative about the events surrounding Lincoln's assassination and how this impacted not only the Civil War and the Union, but the continued impact the event has had.  Bonus?  It reads much like a thriller, meaning that it's no chore for even the casually interested to get into and read with gusto.

Finally, if you're just looking for some basic information to flesh out what you remember from high school, pick up The Civil War: a concise history by Louis P. Masur.  A great, readable overview, Masur's history covers events and causes leading up to the start of the war, the progression year by year,  and finally the devastating effects in the aftermath.

Obviously, this barely scratches the surface, as dozens of books on the subject are published every year.  But if you're looking to start somewhere, these are great ways to get your feet wet, so to speak.

Happy reading!

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