Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The 12 Best Civil War Books
If you read American Civil War books and love them what would you do if you lost them? Would you replace them immediately or just replace a few that you love most of all? Which ones would you replace? Which ones do you need or love the most? I have been thinking about this recently. I’ve created my own list of the top 12. Why 12? Well… these are the ones I would buy ASAP. There are another 25 or so that I’d reacquire but they would be in the second tier of ‘next in line’ books, they can wait. The top tier are books I leaf through frequently, sometimes mindlessly while doing nothing important or I read bits or completely re-read all the time. I have the fondest memories of these so I’d need to replace these old friends first and foremost.
While trying to eliminate the wheat from the chaff I had to make some very tough choices. I figured 10-15 books would be the max on the list. I was hoping to stay at the top 10 but that didn’t work so well. With this in mind it was agonizing to cut some really good books. To be honest if I had to shorten the list further Battle and Leaders would go next… with sadness. I haven’t picked up any of the 4 volumes in years but I used to sit and read it all the time way back when. I also was hoping to add Gettysburg: The First Day by Pfanz but… I’d certainly buy the Second Day first so… I don’t know. Also on the chopping block was the Photographic History of the Civil War and Echoes of Glory. Both of these are great books but they are mostly pictures so they got cut.
The books below made the list most of all because they are very readable and are NOT bland and dry. They read like great historical fiction in the best sense apart from Battle and Leaders. So… in no particular order of preference (because I don’t feel I could do that) here is my list. What’s on your list?
A Stillness at Appomattox – Bruce Catton
Gettysburg: The Second Day – Harry W. Pfanz
Gettysburg: A Journey in Time – William A. Frassanito
Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle – John Michael Priest
Hardtack & Coffee – John Billings
Battles & Leaders of the Civil War – Various
Corporal Si Klegg and His "Pard" - Wilbur F. Hinman
Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage - Noah Andre Trudeau
Reminiscences of the Civil War - John B. Gordon
The Artillery of Gettysburg - Bradley M. Gottfried
Shiloh Bloody April - Wiley Sword
Campaigning with Ulysses S. Grant - Horace Porter