Yesterday I received the latest issue of The Civil War Monitor magazine. I’ve only had a chance to skim through it, but the layout and content look great. This issue includes essays by Glenn LaFantasie, James Marten, Steven Newton, and a pictorial piece by Ronald Coddington. I recently purchased a 2-year subscription and I encourage you to do so as well.
This issue also includes selections for top books of 2011 by five historians including yours truly. I am joined by George Rable, Robert K. Krick, Gerald Prokopowicz, and Ethan Rafuse. What follows are my selections:
- George Rable, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War. We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of Civil War studies focused on religion, but this is by far the most comprehensive. Rable makes a convincing case that our understanding is incomplete if we ignore the extent to which Americans viewed the war’s causes, progress, and consequences through religious terms. [Note: Krick also chose this as one of his top 3.]
- Barbara Gannon, The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic. Gannon argues that, in contrast to previous studies, GAR posts were integrated and involved a great deal of interracial cooperation that reflected the shared experience of war. Not only did these men share continued hardships owing to physical wounds, they also worked to keep the nature of their sacrifice alive even as the nation embraced reconciliation.
- Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South. McCurry offers a thorough analysis of the steps ordinary white southerners and elite slaveowners took to counter policies of the Confederate government. The author spends considerable time placing the 1863 Richmond Bread Riot within a broader landscape of protests among dispossessed white women as well as resistance among slaveowners to Confederate slave impressment laws.
Next on Reading List
- Mark Geiger, Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865. Geiger’s book was recently awarded the Tom Watson Book Prize, which is given annually by the Society of Civil War Historians. Any book that wins $50,000 is likely to be well worth reading. [Note: Also made Prokopowicz’s list.]
Looking Forward to Reading
- Andre Fleche, The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict. Americans suffer from an overly narrow understanding of the Civil War that gives little attention to broader political, economic, and social developments overseas. I am hoping that this book will further my own understanding of the war and provide me with ideas on how to teach the subject from a different perspective.