I would love to know what book(s) have made an impression on you this year. Feel free to share titles that go beyond the field of Civil War history and even history altogether. Don’t know about you, but I sometimes get caught up in books about the Civil War for months at a time and fail to come up for air.
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 “The Civil War Monitor’s Best Books of 2014”
In the interest of full disclosure as we enter the Holiday Season, all book links on this site are to my Amazon affiliate account. I get a small cut in the form of a book credit from each purchase. Happy shopping.
Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Knopf, 2014).
John Demos, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic (Knopf, 2014).
Lesley Gordon, A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).
William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske, Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War (University of Florida Press, 2014).
Ted A. Smith, Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics (Stanford University Press, 2014).
Congratulations to fellow blogger and historian, Keith Harris, on the publication of his new book. It’s always nice to see hard work rewarded and I hope Keith is enjoying that feeling of holding a new hardcover book. I’ve made my way through the first chapter and can’t recommend it enough. Keith’s work fits neatly into a growing body of scholarship that challenges an interpretation made popular by David Blight that places reconciliation at the center of Civil War memory at the expense of memory of emancipation and the end of slavery. It is well worth your time.
Aaron Sheehan-Dean ed., The Civil War: The Final Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Library of America, 2014).
M. Keith Harris, Across the Bloody Chasm: The Culture of Commemoration among Civil War Veterans (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).
Dick Lehr, The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War (Public Affairs, 2014).
Ethan Rafuse ed., Corps Commanders in Blue: Union Major Generals in the Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2014).
Timothy B. Smith, The Mississippi Secession Convention: Delegates and Deliberations in Politics and War, 1861-1865 (University of Mississippi Press, 2014).
Stephen Cushman, Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
Ezra Greenspan, William Wells Brown: An African American Life (Norton, 2014).
Jill Lepore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Knopf, 2014).
John F. Marszalek, Lincoln and the Military (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014).
Michael A. Ross, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Christian G. Samito ed., Commanding Boston’s Irish Ninth: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Patrick R. Guiney, Ninth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Fordham University Press, 1998).
Edward Steers, Jr., Lincoln’s Assassination (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014).
Mark W. Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).
John C. Waugh, Lincoln and the War’s End (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014).