About a year ago Terry Johnston contacted me to discuss his plans to start a new Civil War magazine. He was enthusiastic from the beginning, but wanted to make sure that it was done right. We talked about print v. digital and other issues that continue to shape how we access and consume information. You may remember Terry as the associate editor at North and South magazine. Considering that magazine’s gradual decline over the past few years it is clear that Terry was largely responsible for the quality of content and the breadth of content.
With that in mind it is my pleasure to introduce you to the The Civil War Monitor magazine. I received the premier issue on Friday and over the weekend I had a chance to read through most of it. It has met and exceeded all of my expectations. What stands out on first inspection is the quality of the paper used as well as the cover art by David A. Johnson. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the same old Troiani, Kunstler, and Strain prints that eventually all blend together. I hope that Terry and his team continue to include original and thought-provoking cover art.
In the end, however, it’s the content that matters. This first issue includes feature articles by Russell McClintock, Judith Giesberg, Derek Smith, Brian M. Jordan, and Silvana R. Siddali. Topics range from a comparative essay on Lincoln and Davis to a memory study of Union ex-prisoners of war and an analysis of northern newspaper coverage of Sherman’s March. The content clearly reflects Terry’s conviction that popular writing does not have to rehash the same tired accounts of battles and leaders. The Civil War was much more expansive and its effects much more profound. I can’t think of any other way to characterize this issue than to say, this is a smart magazine.
But wait, there is more. From the beginning Terry expressed an interest in building a website for the project. At first I suggested that perhaps a digital magazine was the way to go, but I was eventually convinced that the print and digital could compliment one another. The website will include all kinds of information, including book reviews and blog posts from a wide range of historians and Civil War enthusiasts. I emphasized the importance of utilizing social media tools and I am pleased to see that the magazine has both a very active Facebook and Twitter page. I am honored to be included as a digital history advisor for this project. The site should be active some time this coming week. The magazine itself will hit news stands in the next week or two.
I couldn’t be happier for Terry and the rest of the staff and I wish them all the best with what promises to be a thoughtful and entertaining magazine.