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Books I’m reading and other assorted Civil War stuff

It’s been all Civil War books and stuff since last spring.

Partly because it’s the 150th anniversary of the war and partly because the Teaching American History grant I’m helping to lead is focusing on the war this year, I’ve been on a Civil War kick much of the year.

So if you’re not a Civil War fan, don’t think you’ll ever be a Civil War fan, don’t know anyone who’s a Civil War fan or don’t teach the Civil War, you have my permission to skip out and bang around somewhere else.

Maybe here.

Or here.

But if you are a fan, here ya go:


1861: The Civil War Awakening
This book takes you from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Started the Civil War
Plotted in secret, launched in the dark, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was a pivotal moment in U.S. history. But few Americans know the true story of the men and women who launched a desperate strike at the slaveholding South. Now, Midnight Rising portrays Brown’s uprising in vivid color, revealing a country on the brink of explosive conflict.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
The standard for the period, this Pulitzer Prize winning book recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates and John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. From there it moves into a masterful chronicle of the war itself–the battles, the strategic maneuvering by each side, the politics, and the personalities. The latest edition has a new Afterword by the author, James McPherson.

America Aflame: How The Civil War Created a Nation
Where past scholars have described the war as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America’s greatest failure: the result of a breakdown caused by the infusion of evangelical religion into the public sphere. As the Second Great Awakening surged through America, political questions became matters of good and evil to be fought to the death. It made the United States one nation and eliminated slavery as a divisive force in the Union.

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
The author embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America’s greatest conflict. The result is an adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance. He joins reenactors who crash-diet to achieve the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war, and takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox.


The Civil War Today
150 years after the start of the American Civil War, HISTORY presents The Civil War Today. For less than one penny per day you can experience the war as it unfolded, one day at a time, with daily updates that let you live the events in “real-time” over the course of four years. It has photos, diaries, newspaper articles, maps and more.

Civil War Battle Apps
Customized battlefield touring apps, with integrated maps and always-on GPS, ensure that you know exactly where you are on the battlefield. Walk where the 20th Maine, 33rd Virginia, or 1st Texas fought – the units and your location are right on the map. Even if you can’t get there, awesome info, videos and maps make these very sweet.

History 3D: Civil War
A time machine, right in your hands. For the first time ever on the iPad, you will see two dozen 3D photos taken during the Civil War, using cameras with two or four lenses, by legends such as Mathew Brady. Most of them are taken from the original negatives, rather than scanned prints.


The Civil War (PBS)
Abraham Lincoln Primary Sources (Library of Congress)
Civil War Maps (
Letters, Telegrams, and Photographs Illustrating Factors that Affected the Civil War (National Archives)
Civil War Lesson Plans (
Civil War Letters (PBS)
The Civil War: A Nation Divided (Discovery Channel)
The Valley of the Shadow (University of Virginia)

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