Megan Kate Nelson’s new post at Historista is sure to keep the controversy surrounding James McPherson’s recent New York Times “best of” list alive. There are two issues discussed in her post that I think are best kept separate even though there is some overlap. First, Megan highlights the extent to which academia remains an “old boys club”. At the same time she expresses some frustration regarding the unwillingness of her fellow historian to generate a new list that highlights a wider swath of talent. Continue reading “What’s In a List? I’ll Tell You”
I decided to post my “Best of” list a little earlier this year. As you might imagine a return to full-time teaching limited what I was able to read over the past few months, but I still managed to make my way through a good number of books in 2013. I thought it was a pretty good year for Civil War books. As for my own research, this past year was a bit of a disappointment. Responsibilities at school also hampered my progress on the black Confederates book, but I am hoping to return to it over the summer. As I reported a few weeks ago, I am also researching the Crater once again for an essay that will appear in an edited volume in 2015. [Should be able to provide more details on it in the near future]. Finally, keep an eye out in January or February for a special issue of Common-place on the Civil War sesquicentennial that I co-edited with Megan Kate Nelson. The essays cover a wide range of topics and should appeal to both scholars and Civil War enthusiasts alike.
Best General History: Ian Buruma, Year Zero: A History of 1945 (The Penguin Press, 2013).
Best Overall Civil War History: Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (Harper, 2013).
Best Campaign/Battle Study: Allen Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Knopf, 2013).
Best Social History: Bruce Levine, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South (Random House, 2013).
Best Slavery History: Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Harvard University Press, 2013).
Best Edited Collection: Andrew L. Slap and Michael T. Smith, This Distracted and Anarchical People: New Answers for Old Questions about the Civil War-Era North (Fordham University Press, 2013).
Best Memory Study: Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013) and Caroline Janney, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
Best Confederate Study: Jaime A. Martinez, Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
Best Union Study: John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis, The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Congratulations to the winners and happy reading!
In addition to my short travel piece on Civil War Boston for the latest issue of The Civil War Monitor, I also took part in the magazine’s “Best of 2013” feature. Seven of us, including Ken Noe, Andrew Wagenhoffer, Robert Krick, Ethan Rafuse, Brooks Simpson and Harry Smeltzer were asked to select a “Top Pick” along with an “Honorable Mention.” Here are my selections. Continue reading “The Civil War Monitor’s Best Books of 2013”
The end of my first full year of living in Boston and what a year it’s been. It should come as no surprise that the highlight of the past year was the publication of my first book in June. I’ve always loved the social aspect of doing history, whether its teaching in the classroom, working with history teachers or lecturing in public. I’ve met some wonderful people this year and I thank each and every one of you for purchasing a copy. Based on the few notices I’ve received from the publisher it looks like sales have been brisk. I am hoping that my royalty check at least allows me to take my wife out for a really nice dinner next month.
As for 2013 I am looking forward to working with the Massachusetts Historical Society on some programs for teachers as well as the Massachusetts 150 Commission. On the writing front I am hoping to complete the Confederate camp servants book and finish up with editing the letters of Captain John Christopher Winsmith. We shall see. For now I want to thank all of you for continuing to visit Civil War Memory. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at this thing called blogging for over seven years now. Happy Holidays to you and your family.
…and now to the list.
A Sad Note
This Holiday Season has been particularly difficult for my former colleagues and students and the close knit community that is the St. Anne’s – Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. Although I am no longer working there I join them in mourning the loss of some wonderful people. Today I learned of the death of a student from the class of 2008, who fought a long hard battle against cancer. Katie was a wonderful student and always had a smile on her face. No doubt, many of you heard about the horrible plane crash in northern New Jersey last week that took the lives of four members of the Beckwith family. They were a member of the St. Anne’s – Belfield family. My thoughts go out to the families and friends during this very difficult time.
What a Year
I have quite a bit to be thankful for as we close out 2011. It’s been one hell of a year. First and foremost, my wife and I celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. In March I learned that we would be moving to Boston to take advantage of an exciting career opportunity for my wife. The transition was incredibly smooth and I absolutely love living in the city. It’s never boring when you are married to an incredibly talented and ambitious woman. I haven’t gotten as much writing done as I anticipated, but I am making progress on a number of fronts. In a few weeks I will begin the process of trying to secure a teaching position for next year, but I am still leaving my options open. I’ve made a number of connections in the area so it’s anyone’s guess as to what I will be doing in the coming months.
I am in what I believe to be the final stages of getting the Crater manuscript ready for publication. The press sent me the final edits last week and I should have it completed by Jan. 13, which will be followed by the indexing and review of the final proofs. It should be smooth sailing from here on out. The book listing at Amazon has a June 21 release date, but I am hoping that it will be available earlier. Thanks to those of you who have already purchased it. It means a great deal to me.
In the Hopper
In addition to getting the ms. ready for publication I am working on a number of other projects that I hope to finish by spring. The first is a historiographical essay on the war in Virginia in 1861 for a 2-volume collection that is being edited by Aaron Sheehan-Dean. On the black Confederate front I was recently asked to write an essay for The Journal of the Civil War Era, which I hope to complete by the end of January. In addition, I hope to get back to work on researching my regimental history of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
And Now to the Books…