Biography of Robert Gould Shaw Under Contract With UNC Press

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that A Glorious Fate: The Life and Legacy of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is now under advance contract with The University of North Carolina Press. From the beginning I had little doubt that I wanted to work once again with Mark Simpson-Vos and the rest of the UNC Press team. The terms of the contract and my experience with Searching for Black Confederates made my decision a very easy one to make.

Dedication of the Shaw Memorial in Boston on May 31, 1897

A couple weeks ago I shared some thoughts about why I think it is time for a new biography of Shaw. One of the things that I am very pleased with is the encouragement from the publisher to expand the sections of the book that will focus on memory. There is so much to explore, especially the ways in which the relationship between Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts has been understood as well as the level of attention and relative importance placed on them at different times.

The closest model to what I am envisioning at this point is Joan Waugh’s excellent study of Ulysses S. Grant, which is balanced evenly between a more traditional biography and a deep dive into various subjects related to memory.

Special thanks to my book writing group colleagues for their continued support. Megan Kate Nelson, Sara Georgini, Liz Covart, Nina Silber, Kate Grandjean, Caitlin G. DeAngelis, Joseph Adelman, and Chris Parsons offered very helpful comments on an early draft of the book proposal.

As far as a publication timeline, we are still a ways away. There is a good deal of work to do and I still need to visit a couple archives. I also plan on making what will be my first visit to the Port Royal area in South Carolina.

The ongoing COVID pandemic has made travel planning difficult, but my goal is to have a completed manuscript to the press roughly next year at this time.

If everything goes as planned, the book will hit stores in Fall 2023, which is appropriate given that July 18, 2023 will be the 160th anniversary of Robert Gould Shaw’s death.

You can expect regular updates here on the blog, including some of the documents that I am interpreting and questions that I am trying to answer. As always, your thoughts and suggestions will be most welcome. Finally, please feel free to share documents and other sources that you think I might find interesting that relate to this project.

My hope is to produce a book that is thought provoking and entertaining. Thank you for your continued support.

7 comments… add one
  • CliosFanBoy Apr 5, 2021 @ 7:08

    Great news! And UNC is a very good press for Civil War studies. Congratulations!

  • 65th NY Guy Apr 1, 2021 @ 17:06

    Good luck! Exciting.

    –Chris Barry

    • Kevin Levin Apr 2, 2021 @ 1:11

      Thank you, Chris.

  • msb Apr 1, 2021 @ 9:12

    Great news. Looking forward to reading this!

    • Kevin Levin Apr 1, 2021 @ 9:14

      Thank you.

  • Mike DiPaolo Apr 1, 2021 @ 3:50

    Congrats Kevin. Looking forward to the book. Enjoy the path and work, it is great to live your passion.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 1, 2021 @ 4:19

      Thanks so much for the enthusiastic response, Mike. I appreciate it.

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