Best of 2010

Civilians During the battle of Fredericksburg

Unfortunately, this year’s picks are based on a slightly shorter list of books than in the past owing to the amount of time I spent over the summer revising my book manuscript on the battle of the Crater.  However, that didn’t prevent me from reading a fairly large number of books that are worth acknowledging at the end of another year.  Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read, comment, and consider what I have to say.  I have no plans to quit blogging.  In fact, the popularity of this site continues to grow and continues to open up new opportunities for me that I could not have imagined just a few short years ago.  The coming year promises to be another good one on both the professional and personal fronts.  I hope all of you are enjoying the Holiday Season.

Best Civil War Blog: This was one of the easiest choices that I’ve had to make in this category since starting this list.  While there are plenty of good Civil War blogs to choose from only a select few stand out to me as important resources for both scholars and general enthusiasts.  John Hennessy’s Mysteries and Conundrums is hands down the most important Civil War blog in our little corner of the blogosphere.  M&C is the group blog of the staff at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and while Hennessy is the most visible writer other contributors include Noel Harrison, Mac Wycoff, and Eric Mink.  Their blog offers a behind-the-scenes look at the complex process involved in interpreting some of America’s most sacred and controversial historic sites.  The site offers interested readers a primer on how public history is done and it does so by engaging the public as an integral part of the process.  No other website or even published study has taught me more over the past year about the history of the Fredericksburg area, public history, and Civil War memory.  Thanks to John and the rest of the staff for inviting us inside, showing us how it is done, and for providing a blueprint that other historic sites can employ.

Best History Book of 2010: Alan Taylor, The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (Knopf, 2010).

Best Overall Civil War History: George Rable, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era, 2010).

Best Campaign/Battle Study: Earl J. Hess, Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg (University of South Carolina Press, 2010).

Best Biography: Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (Norton, 2010).

Best Confederate Study: Kenneth W. Noe, Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

Best Union Study: Lorien Foote, The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Violence, Honor, and Manhood in the Union Army (New York University Press, 2010).

Best Slavery Study: Stanley Harrold, Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

Best Memory Study: Benjamin G. Cloyd, Haunted by Atrocity: Civil War Prisons in American Memory (Louisiana State University Press, 2010).

Best Edited Collection: Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller eds. ,The Great Task Remaining Before Us: Reconstruction as America’s Continuing Civil War (Fordham University Press, 2010).

Best Social History: Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Some good things to look forward to in 2011: Joseph Glatthaar, Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served Under Robert E. Lee (University of North Carolina Press); David S. Reynolds, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America (Norton); James Marten, Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America (University of North Carolina Press); Wallace Hettle, Inventing Stonewall Jackson: A Civil War Hero in History and Memory (Louisiana State University Press); Brooks Simpson, The Civil War in the East: A Reassessment (Praeger); Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War (Harvard University Press); David Goldfield, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (Bloomsbury Press).

Best of 2009

Once again, thanks to all of you for making Civil War Memory part of your daily Online travels.  There were plenty of good books published in the field of Civil War history in 2009 and 2010 looks to be just as good.  Listed below are a few of my favorite titles from the past year.  I hope all of you are enjoying the Holiday Season.

Best History Blog: American History Now This was the easiest pick of the year.  Those of you well versed in the historiography of Civil War memory studies may be familiar with Jim Cullen’s book, The Civil War in Popular Culture: A Reusable Past.  Somehow between his many publications and teaching, Jim has managed to maintain what is in my mind one of the best history/teaching blogs.  He blogs about all things American history and culture and his ongoing series about a fictional history teacher is a must read.  This is intelligent and creative blogging at its best.

Best Civil War Blog: Gettysburg Daily Can’t get to Gettysburg?  The next best thing is a regularly updated blog that is packed with beautiful photographs, panoramas, and tours with Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides.  A great deal of work goes into each post, which leaves one wondering how they are able to maintain the site on a regular basis.  Well, however they do it, I just want to say that it is appreciated by this Civil War enthusiast.

Best History Book of 2009: Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1798-1815 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Best Overall Civil War History: Marc Egnal, Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War (Hill and Wang, 2009).

Best Campaign Study: William Shea, Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Best Biography: Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

Best Confederate Study: Barton Myers, Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Community, 1861-1865 (Louisiana State University Press, 2009).

Best Union Study: Stephen Ramold, Baring the Iron Hand: Discipline in the Union Army (Northern Illinois University Press, 2009).

Best Slavery Study: Lacy Ford, Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Best Memory Study: Kirk Savage, Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (University of California Press, 2009).

Best Edited Collection: Lee Ann Whites and Alicia P. Long, Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation and the American Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2009).

Best Social History: Jeffrey McClurken, Take Care of the Living: Reconstructing Confederate Veteran Families in Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2009).

Some good things to look forward to in 2010: Shearer Davis Bowman, At the Precipice: Americans North and South During the Secession Crisis (UNC Press and the Littlefield Series, June 2010); William W. Freehling, Showdown in Virginia: The 1861 Convention and the Fate of the Union (University of Virginia Press, April 2010); Kenneth W. Noe, Reluctant Rebels: Confederates Who Joined the Army After 1861 (University of North Carolina Press, April 2010); Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Harvard University Press, April 2010); C.S. Manegold, Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North (Princeton University Press, January 2010); Larry Logue and Peter Blanck eds., Race, Ethnicity, and the Treatment of Disability in Post-Civil War America (Cambridge University Press, June 2010).

Best of 2008

republicofsufferingIt’s time for the fourth annual installment of the best in Civil War books and blogs from the past year. This is an opportunity to acknowledge those books that have been both a pleasure to read and which have left me with a great deal to ponder. Once again this list reflects just a fraction of what I’ve read during 2008. Congratulations to the winners.

Best Civil War Blog: Robert Moore’s Cenantua’s Blog. Robert’s site is by far the most intellectually stimulating blog in the Civil War blogosphere. He reminds us that Southern heritage and memory is much bigger and more interesting than the narrow contours of the Lost Cause.

Favorite History Book of 2008: Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracture of America (Scribners).

Best Overall Civil War History: Drew G. Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf).

Best Campaign Study: Stephen V. Ash, Firebrand of Liberty: The Story of Two Black Regiments That Changed the Course of the Civil War (Norton).

Best Biography: Rod Andrew, Jr., Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Confederate Study: Joseph T Glatthaar, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (The Free Press).

Best Union Study: Russell McClintock, Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Slavery Study: Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press).

Best Memory Study: Caroline E. Janney, Burying the Dead But Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations & the Lost Cause (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Edited Collection: Anthony J. Stanonis, Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South (University of Georgia Press).

Best Social History: Michael D. Pierson, Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans (University of North Carolina Press).

Best Myth Buster: Earl J. Hess, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (University of Kansas Press).

Some good things to look forward to in 2009: Richard Slotkin, No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864; Earl J. Hess, In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat; Daniel Sutherland, A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerillas in the American Civil War.

Best of 2007

It’s time for the third annual installment of the best in Civil War books and blogs.  This is an opportunity to acknowledge those books that have been both a pleasure to read and which have left me with a great deal to ponder.  Once again this list reflects just a fraction of what I’ve read during 2007.  Congratulations to the winners.  Awards are in the mail.

Civil War Memory’s Hall of Fame: I developed this new category to honor some of my favorite readers.  This blog has attracted some real characters over the past two years and their devotion to this site and conviction that I am at war with all things southern is worth acknowledging.  I had a few people in mind for this award, but in the end I had to go with Jim (a.k.a. Anonymous).  When it comes to loyal readers few can match the amount of time Jim spends on my site or the time it has taken him to write negative feedback on at least 20 history blogs.  I couldn’t ask for better publicity.

Best Blog: HNN’s Cliopatria Note: All that needs to be said is that I begin each day with Ralph and the gang.

Best Civil War Blog: Craig Warren’s Civil War Literature.

Favorite History Book of 2007: Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).  Note: I am only about half-way through the book, but it is already clear that this is the work of a very talented historian.

Best Overall Civil War Military History: Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War (New York, Knopf, 2007.

Best Campaign Study: Scott C. Patchan, Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007). 

Best Biography: Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters (New York: Viking, 2007).  Note: This is easily the single best volume on Lee.

Best Confederate Study: Jason Phillips, Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007).

Best Union Study: Garrett Epps, Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America (New York: Holt Publishers, 2007 [paperback edition]).

Best Slavery Study: David W. Blight, ed., A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom (New York: Harcourt, 2007).

Best Memory Study: Robert Cook, Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2007).

Best Edited Collection: John Y. Simon, Harold Holzer, and Dawn Vogel, eds., Lincoln Revisited (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007).

Best Social History: Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Why Confederates Fought: Family & Nation in Civil War Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

Best Myth Buster: Micki McElya, Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).

Some good things to look forward to in early 2008: Joseph Glatthaar’s, General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse (March), Drew G. Faust, The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (January), and William Lee Miller, President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman (February).

Year In Review: 2006

It’s time for my second annual best-of list for 2006.  These are always tough calls so take them with a grain of salt.  Obviously I could go on and on but this list hits on a few of the books that kept me out of trouble in 2006.    [Note: these books were not necessarily published in the past year.]

Best Blog: This is one of the easiest choices and it goes to Tim Greenman’s Walking the Berkshires.  Tim describes his site as an “eclectic weaving of human narrative, natural history, and conservation science with the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills as both its backdrop and point of departure. I am interested in how land and people, past and present manifest in the broader landscape and social fabric of our communities.”  The site is entertaining and educational.  Thanks Tim!

Favorite History Book of 2006: Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Best Overall Civil War Military History: Steven E. Woodworth, Nothing But Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 (Knopf, 2005). 

Best Biography:  Joan Cashin, First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2006).   

Best Confederate Study: Armstead L. Robinson, Bitter Fruits of Bondage: The Demise of Slavery and the Collapse of the Confederacy, 1861-1865 (University of Virginia Press, 2005) 

Best Union Study: Jennifer Weber, Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Best Slavery Study: David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (Oxford University Press, 2006). 

Best Memory Study: James and Lois Horton eds, Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory (The New Press, 2006). 

Best Edited Collection: Gary W. Gallagher, The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). 

Best Social History: Jonathan Dean Sarris, A Separate Civil War: Communities in Conflict in the Mountain South (University of Virginia Press, 2006). 

Best Myth Buster: Roger L. Ransom, The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been (Norton, 2005). 

Best Gettysburg Book: Kent M. Brown, Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign (University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

Some good things to look forward to in the new year are studies by William Freehling, Chandra Manning, and Nelson Lankford.  Congratulations to the winners.  Awards are in the mail.