Best of 2008

republicofsufferingIt’s time for the fourth annual installment of the best in Civil War books and blogs from the past year. This is an opportunity to acknowledge those books that have been both a pleasure to read and which have left me with a great deal to ponder. Once again this list reflects just a fraction of what I’ve read during 2008. Congratulations to the winners.

Best Civil War Blog: Robert Moore’s Cenantua’s Blog. Robert’s site is by far the most intellectually stimulating blog in the Civil War blogosphere. He reminds us that Southern heritage and memory is much bigger and more interesting than the narrow contours of the Lost Cause.

Favorite History Book of 2008: Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracture of America (Scribners).

Best Overall Civil War History: Drew G. Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf).

Best Campaign Study: Stephen V. Ash, Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War (Norton).

Best Biography: Rod Andrew, Jr., Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Confederate Study: Joseph T Glatthaar, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (The Free Press).

Best Union Study: Russell McClintock, Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Slavery Study: Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press).

Best Memory Study: Caroline E. Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations & the Lost Cause (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Edited Collection: Anthony J. Stanonis, Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South (University of Georgia Press).

Best Social History: Michael D. Pierson, Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Myth Buster: Earl J. Hess, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (University of Kansas Press).

Some good things to look forward to in 2009: Richard Slotkin, No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864; Earl J. Hess, In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat; Daniel Sutherland, A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerillas in the American Civil War.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

7 comments… add one
  • Carrie Jan 7, 2009 @ 15:29


    Thanks so much for the honor!

    • Kevin Levin Jan 7, 2009 @ 15:31

      My pleasure Carrie. I thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as your recent piece on Sallie Pickett in the VMHB.

  • Stuart Dec 23, 2008 @ 7:25

    Good choices Kevin!
    I am presently reading Joseph Glatthaar’s “General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse”. His analysis of the foot soldiers of Lee’s army is fascinating. At least for me, it has given real background on why they fought, and their views on slavery. I am very curious to see what Glatthaar has to write about Lee’s tactical decisions.
    This is the work of a true scholar.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 23, 2008 @ 7:58

      Stuart, — Glad to hear that you are enjoying his book. It is the best one-volume study of Lee’s army that we have.

  • Kevin Levin Dec 22, 2008 @ 3:42

    Robert, — You are very welcome, Robert.

    Russ, — Thanks for taking the time to comment. Keep in mind that McClintock’s book is much more analytical compared with Faust and other popular titles. That said, I think you will learn a great deal about the secession winter that you will not get from any other study.

  • Russ Oates Dec 20, 2008 @ 9:23

    The Faust and McClintock books were both used in the Civil War grad class I took this semester. A marvelous work that’s sure to inspire more studies on the subject.

    I didn’t get the chance to read McClintock’s book, and the class reviewer thought the book was a bit of a bore, but it’s high on my list to read.

    On the class trip to Gettysburg, I picked up Hess’ study at the gift shop–it made for an enjoyable read on the bus ride back to New York. It was especially useful a few days later when we discussed the battle tactics of the Civil War.

  • Robert Moore Dec 20, 2008 @ 8:16

    Wow! Thanks Kevin. I certainly appreciate the nod for “best” Civil War blog. I would never have considered blogging had it not been for the hypertext theory course that I took in the spring.

    Good luck in the Clio Awards. Hope you get recognized for the Black Confederates series.

    I see you have also listed another Page County native in including Janney in your list.

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