Tag Archives: Earl J. Hess

Blurbing the Crater

We are so close I can smell it.  The other day I had a chance to review the content of the dust jacket, which included the blurbs below.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have these endorsements.  I seem to remember at one point speculating as to whether blurbs were simply favors or at least based on some understanding of the content.  Well, in this case I can state with confidence that all four read through the proofs or an earlier version of the book.  I am so excited about the impending publication of this book that I wonder if actually holding it in my hands will be anti-climactic.

The only blurb we are still waiting on is from David Blight.  No one has taught me more about the study of the Civil War and historical memory than Blight.  While I hope my book builds on and even challenges some of the claims made in Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, no other book that has had more of an impact on my understanding of this field of Civil War studies.  Earl Hess has been a supporter of this project from the very beginning.  Back in 2003 I spent part of my summer gathering archival sources related to the Petersburg Campaign for his book, In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat as well as his more recent military study of the Crater.  I was very pleased to see that my published work on the Crater made it into the final chapter of his book, which briefly explored the postwar themes connected to the Crater.  While researching in Petersburg I spent a good deal of time talking with Chris Calkins, who was then chief of interpretation at the Petersburg National Battlefield.  No one knows more about the battle and while I suspect that Chris disagrees with some of my interpretive points related to the recent history of the NPS at Petersburg I am thrilled to have his name on the book.  Chris is now in charge of the new Sailor’s Creek battlefield, which I hope to visit at some point soon. Finally, it’s really nice to have Anne Marshall’s endorsement.  Despite predictions to the contrary I would like to think that our books point to continued interest in the field of Civil War memory.  If you have not done so I highly recommend reading her recent book, Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State.

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Acquisitions, 10/20 + Another Book by Earl Hess

Earl Hess’s productivity over the past five years is nothing short of mind-boggling.  Imagine my surprise when UNC Press mailed me the latest in their Littlefield History of the Civil War series.  While most people are still getting through his trilogy on Civil War earthworks Hess has released three more.

Virginia M. Adams, On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier’s Civil War Letters from the Front (University of Massachusetts Press, 1991).

Stephen Berry ed., Weirding the War: Stories from the Civil War’s Ragged Edges (University of Georgia Press, 2011).

R. Blakeslee Gilpin, John Brown Still Lives!: America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

Earl J. Hess, The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

Noah A. Trudeau, Voices of the 55th: Letters from the 55th Massachusetts Volunteers, 1861-1865 (Morningside Press, 1996).

 

Acquisitions, 10/09

To be honest, the last thing that I need to be reading is another book on Abraham Lincoln given everything that has been published over the past few years.  However, I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying Eric Foner’s new book on Lincoln and slavery and I suspect that it will quickly establish itself as the standard study – highly recommended.  I will also have quite a lot to say about Earl Hess’s new book on the Crater, which is by far the most thorough study of the battle.  Hess adds quite a bit to our understanding of the racial aspect of the battle.

Shearer Davis Bowman, At the Precipice: Americans North and South During the Secession Crisis (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

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

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

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

Kate Masur, An Example For All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle for Equality in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

Louis P. Masur, The Civil War: A Concise History (Oxford University Press, 2011).

 

It’s Always a Good Day When a New Book by Earl J. Hess is Released

Hess
A number of other bloggers have already announced the release of his new book, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat: Reality and Myth (University of Kansas Press, 2008), but when we are talking about Earl Hess my rule is the more talk the better.  Hess is quite simply one of my favorite historians.  I can best express my enthusiasm by admitting that when a new book of his is released everything else takes a side seat.  I’ve read just about all of his books, my favorites including Lee’s Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade and Liberty, Virtue, and Progress: Northerners and Their War for the Union.  Hess has tackled a broad range of topics within the sphere of military history, and readers can always count on a well written and analytically-driven interpretation that inevitably leads to a reassessment of basic assumptions concerning the subject at hand.  In that sense, both the scope and quality of his work remind me of George Rable’s scholarship.

I’ve never met Professor Hess, though I did spend a few weeks in the summer of 2003 mining the Richmond archives for sources that will be used in his final volume of field fortifications during the Petersburg Campaign.  Much of that source material became the foundation for my own work on the battle of the Crater.  By the way, Hess is finishing up (and may even be finished) with a book-length manuscript on the Crater.  [If I am not mistaken, UNC Press is going to publish it.]  We haven’t seen a decent book-length account of this battle since Cavanaugh and Marvel’s study, which was published back in 1989.