This year Terry Johnston was once again kind enough to ask me to contribute to another roundup of the best books of the year for the magazine. The categories were slightly different this year, but I don’t think there are any surprises regarding my top picks. If you don’t like my picks you can peruse books chosen by A. Wilson Greene, Kathryn Shively Meier, Gerald Prokopowicz, Lesley Gordon and Andrew Wagenhoffer.
Best Book: Jennifer M. Murray, On a Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2012 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2014)
This book serves as a reminder that the interpretation and even physical appearance of our Civil War battlefields is constantly evolving. Gettysburg enthusiasts and scholars alike will enjoy reading about an idea to cover battlefield monuments with bushes in the 1930s by park superintendent, James R. McConaghie, and plans to scrap the Virginia Monument during WWII. Unlike many books that explore the history of Civil War battlefields Murray brings her story to the present day, including discussion of the demolition of the Observation Tower and the controversy surrounding the destruction of the old Visitor Center along with the construction of the new one. Readers interested in Civil War memory, public history, tourism, and popular culture will enjoy and profit from this book. Continue reading →