I was recently checking out some new titles on Amazon and came across Steve Woodworth’s forthcoming study of the western theater titled, Decision in the Heartland: The Civil War in the West (Praeger, 2008). I’ve read a few surveys of the war in the west, including Woodworth’s last book which I thoroughly enjoyed so I will probably skip this one. Unfortunately, the jacket description includes the typical selling point:
The verdict is in: the Civil War was won in the “West”–that is, in the nation’s heartland, between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Yet, a person who follows the literature on the war might still think that it was the conflict in Virginia that ultimately decided the outcome. Each year sees the appearance of new books aimed at the popular market that simply assume that it was in the East, often at Gettysburg, that the decisive clashes of war the took place.
Actually, anyone who has followed the “literature on the war” over the past few years cannot help but notice the sharp increase in studies that cover every aspect of the war in the west. How many books need to be published before we can dispense with this little marketing ploy?