Category Archives: William Mahone/Crater

Buy Remembering the Battle of the Crater Direct From the Author

Update: Thanks again everyone. Sold a total of 10 copies on the first day.

CraterYou can now purchase my book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder, directly from me for the low price of $25 plus $3.00 shipping.  Just click the “Buy Now” button below and you will be taken to my PayPal site.  Please use the Contact Form if you would like a signature and inscription.  The University Press of Kentucky prices the book at $35 plus shipping and handling, so I hope that this discounted price for a signed first edition makes the purchase more appealing.   This is what I sell the book for at talks, workshops, etc.

“In this stunning and well-researched book, Kevin Levin catches the new waves of the study of memory, black soldiers, and the darker underside of the Civil War as well as anyone has. That horrible day at the Crater in Petersburg, its brutal racial facts and legacies, all tangled in the weeds of Confederate Lost Cause lore, have never been exposed like this. Levin is both superb scholar and public historian, showing us a piece of the real war that does now get into the books, as well as into site interpretation.”

David W. Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

I know there are some of you out there who simply can’t afford a hardcover book even at a discounted price.  You will be happy to know that the book will eventually be published in paperback.  Unfortunately, I have no time frame for its release.


How Many Books Did You Sell This Year?

crater kentuckyI’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with sharing my experience in seeing a book manuscript through to publication.  Some of you have been with me since 2007, when I first announced that I might have the opportunity to publish what was then only a Master’s Thesis.  As I got closer to publication I wondered about sales.  I knew going in that the book would likely appeal to a fairly narrow audience.  The Crater is not the most popular Civil War battle and the study of historical memory is perhaps an acquired taste.  My decision to sign with one of the smaller academic presses also tempered my optimism, which is not to say that I in any way regret going with the University Press of Kentucky or that I am disappointed with their work thus far. Far from it.

On occasion, however, I did allow myself to speculate as to how a strong social media presence might translate into book sales.  Since I have no frame of reference it was always difficult to arrive at a number, but I thought that my ability to promote the book through my blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed might provide a model for other authors of academic titles who hope to reach a wider audience.  OK, so I thought that somewhere around 1,000 books sold by Jan. 1 was not out of the realm of possibility.

At this point, I am disappointed to admit that this apparently has not happened.  My publisher informed me that since the book was released in early July 2012 it has sold 621 copies.

Now, it could be the case that this is a pretty good showing for a book such as mine.  As I said, I have no frame of reference.  And I should note that overall I couldn’t be more pleased with how the book has been received by many of you as well as by both magazine and journal reviewers.  That I was able to contribute anything at all to a body of scholarship that has taught me much and provided me with countless of hours of enjoyment is sufficient.

The experience has left me with much to think about as I consider future projects.  I see the book format as one tool in my arsenal through which to share my love of history with the general public.  We will have to see whether I have another one in me.  I certainly hope so.  Working with an academic publisher forced me to respond to my peers, who assisted me in improving both the narrative and various interpretive elements.   It is an invaluable aspect of the writing process and having the stamp of approval from such a publisher hopefully gives me a certain legitimacy as I move further.

That said, I can’t help but wonder whether I might be able to take the experience of working with a traditional publisher and apply it to another approach that might result in greater reach – perhaps self-publishing?  I am willing to consider all options.  After all, I don’t need to publish for tenure or promotion.  As an author I want to produce a product that has integrity and see it in the hands of as many people as possible.  What’s the point of suffering through the process of researching and writing if no one is going to read it?

In the meantime, I recently got the go-ahead from the publisher to sell my book directly.  I’ve been buying books with my author’s discount to sell at speaking events.  I am still in the process of setting up a PayPal account, but once it’s you will be able to buy the book for $25 + shipping.

Thanks again to all of you who have bought the book.

Speaking in Newburyport, MA on Wednesday Evening

For those of you who live in the greater Boston area and are looking to get out for a few hours tomorrow evening I would love to see you in Newburyport.  More specifically, in nearby Salisbury [East Parish United Methodist Church, 8 Lafayette Rd. (Rt. 1)].  I will be giving a talk to the Merrimac Civil War Round Table on the battle of the Crater.  My talk will focus specifically on how Confederates responded to the presence of United States Colored Troops on the battlefield and in the letters and diaries written in the immediate aftermath.  The meeting begins at 7:30pm.

I will have books on hand at a discounted price and will be happy to personalize a copy for you.  Hope to see you.  If you can’t make tomorrow evening’s presentation you can catch me on October 26 at the Civil War Round Table of Greater Boston in Waltham.

Earlier today my friend Keith Harris posted a review of my book at Cosmic America.  There is really no reason to read beyond the first two sentences:

Let’s get straight to the point here. Kevin Levin’s new book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder,  is an exceptionally solid work.

In all seriousness, I appreciate Keith taking the time to read my book.  He makes a couple of really important points about where my book fits into the broader field of Civil War memory studies, which I am going to respond to very soon.

Interview With The Civil War Monitor

Thanks to David Thomson for the opportunity to interview with The Civil War Monitor’s new series, Behind the Lines.  We talked mainly about my Crater book and toward the end I babble on a bit about blogging and social media.  If you are curious the book is doing very well.  Some of you are familiar with the standard academic press contract and I am now confident that within a few months I will make enough profit to take my wife out to a nice dinner.  You can still pick up the book at a 40% discount.  Just use the coupon code on the book page.  [The code will override the 20% discount that you will see on the publisher's book page.]

The book has received some favorable reviews.  Jim Cullen reviewed it for History News Network earlier this summer and I was especially pleased to see Caroline Janney’s positive review in The Civil War Monitor.  I first learned about William Mahone in a summer seminar for history teachers at the University of Virginia taught by Gary Gallagher and William Thomas. Carrie was one of the teaching assistants for the course.  I am very much looking forward to her forthcoming study of Civil War memory, which will be published next year as part of the University of North Carolina Press’s Littlefield Series.

A couple of shorter blog posts have appeared with mixed reviews.  Brendan Wolfe offered a thoughtful and critical assessment at the Encyclopedia Virginia blog on parts of the first chapter.  I offered some feedback, but have not seen anything on the rest of the book.  More curious is Tim Talbott’s review at Random Thoughts on History.  It seems I overlooked a Confederate account of the battle that even he can’t reference.  Again, most of the focus is on the first chapter.  In the end I appreciate that they took the time to read at least parts of the book.

Appearance on Civil War Talk Radio

Earlier today I was interviewed on Civil War Talk Radio by Gerry Prokopowicz of East Carolina University.  We talked mainly about the book, including the battle, William Mahone’s political career, the two Crater reenactments, and briefly about interpretation at the Crater today.  This is my second appearance on CWTR.  The first time was back in 2006 when I had just published a short article about the battle in America’s Civil War.  Nice to be able to return to talk about the book and a much broader story.  Thanks to Gerry for another enjoyable experience on the radio.

Listen to the interview here.