Top Civil War Books for 2011 at The Civil War Monitor

Winter 2011

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:

Top Pics

  • 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

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.

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8 comments… add one
  • matt Gallman Nov 26, 2011 @ 18:34

    How are they defining 2011?

    McCurry, Rable and Geiger are all 2010 titles. McCurry’s book came out more than a year and a half ago

    Seems to me that Gallagher, Leonard, Marten, Neely, Arenson are all in the calendar year 2011 conversation.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 27, 2011 @ 2:45

      You are right, Matt. When Terry Johnston first approached me about participating I suggested that he give us a bit more room to work with. We went with the past 12 months rather than a straightforward look at 2011. Marten’s book made my list of notable mentions, but that wasn’t included in the magazine. I am close to finishing Arenson and I recently started Neely. Leonard’s biography was also quite good. Some of these books will no doubt make my Best Books of 2011 list.

      • Terry Johnston Nov 28, 2011 @ 6:52

        That’s right, Kevin. You definitely were key in having me rethink the idea, which went from the top books published in 2011 to favorite titles published in the last 12 months (we put this together in September-October). Also, per your feedback, we tweaked the primary question so that it specifically asked participants for their top pics among the recently released books they’d read to date. A fine point, perhaps, but an important one.

        Matt: You’re also right that a few titles slipped in there that were published somewhat outside of the 12-month scope. I didn’t mind enough to kick anyone off the island, though.

        • Kevin Levin Nov 28, 2011 @ 7:01

          In the end, your readers have a nice selection of recently released books to choose from and that’s what matters. Thanks again for the invitation to participate.

  • Barbara A. Gannon Nov 26, 2011 @ 6:22

    Thanks for recognizing my book. It is much appreciated.

    • Kevin Levin Nov 26, 2011 @ 7:03

      My pleasure, Barbara. By the way, you still owe me some pics of a certain archaeological find that would make a perfect stocking stuffer. 🙂

      • Barbara A. Gannon Nov 26, 2011 @ 17:04

        As soon as I get the tech together its yours.

        • Kevin Levin Nov 26, 2011 @ 17:50


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