Civil War Magazines in Perspective
Yesterday I received an advanced copy of Gary W. Gallagher’s forthcoming book, Causes Won, Lost, & Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know About the Civil War (UNC Press, March 2008). Gallagher surveys the last few decades of Civil War culture in movies and art, including the content of advertisements in the major Civil War magazines. He notes in the introduction that Civil War Times Illustrated prints "approximately" 85,000 copies per issue while America’s Civil War has a circulation of 40-45,000. I assume that North and South is operating somewhere below that number.
I have to admit to being surprised by these numbers – they seem very low. This is not a commentary on the quality of the magazines, which do indeed offer a wide range of topics and themes related to the war years. It is tempting to speculate that very few people actually read Civil War history? Perhaps I am missing something.