Civil War Memory Reading List

John Coski and I wrote up a reading list for the participants of this past weekend’s Civil War memory conference.  The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but as a place to start.  That said, I think it’s safe to say that one could occupy a substantial amount of time with the studies on this list.  Feel free to suggest additional titles if you believe there to be any glaring omissions.

8 comments… add one
  • matthew mckeon Jun 27, 2007 @ 21:42

    Robert Lowell’s poem about the 54th Massachusetts/Robert Shaw memorial on Boston Common is thought provoking.

    Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook, published shortly after the war would be a key influence in shaping our perceptions of the war.

  • Adam Zimmerli Jun 27, 2007 @ 13:26


    I tried to post this earlier, but it doesn’t seem to have gone up. Another book that you may want to consider for the list is Larry Logue’s (ed.) The Civil War Veteran: A Historical Reader.

    It’s a good collection of essays (one is by David Blight), and even though it deals with memory somewhat obliquely, it is a good look at the immediate post-war years.

    I also enjoyed meeting you. Say “guten tag” to your wife.


  • Adam Zimmerli Jun 27, 2007 @ 12:17


    There are two others that I’ve been thinking about, but I can only place my hands on one book at the moment:

    Larry Logue (ed.), The Civil War Veteran: A Historical Reader. It deals obliquely with memory, and specifically the immediate post-war years.

    There’s another one that I picked up at Borders one day, but I can’t seem to remember the title. It’s been a frustrating day and a half trying to come up with it.

    It was great to meet you, too. Say “Guten Tag” to your wife for me.


  • Clio Bluestocking Jun 27, 2007 @ 11:38

    Kevin, I’ll wait to hear what you say on it; but I agree with you. Ferguson is hilarious (have you gotten to the motivational seminar chapter yet? I was howling!), and I picked up some information about the way certain sites and museums were created and interpreted. I felt the same about Vowell, who actually has some excellent insights, but overall has a few flaws.

    I’d like to chalk the problems up to the different approaches and methods between journalists and historians, but then there is Horowitz. Horowitz’s strength came from the questions he asked. “Why do people do this — and do it to such extremes?” and “What are the bigger implications of this activity beyond the reenactment events?” Those sorts of questions create a more intellectually dramatic story. The theses of the other two seems more “Lincoln: Yea!” Not so much engaging as amusing.

    Does this qualify as “highjaking the comments”?

  • Kevin Levin Jun 26, 2007 @ 17:15

    Hey Adam, — Excellent suggestions. To be honest, I am not familiar with the last one so I will definitely check it out. It was great having a chance to meet and talk with you over the weekend. Good luck and stay in touch.

  • Adam Zimmerli Jun 26, 2007 @ 17:04


    Glad you and John got this list together! How about as additions:

    Thomas Desjardin’s How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory;

    Kathleen Clark’s Defining Moments: African-American Commemoration and Political Culture in the South, 1863 – 1913;

    Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery;

    and there are a few others that I can’t seem to remember… Feel free to add these on. Otherwise, it looks like my Master’s Bibliography already!

  • Kevin Levin Jun 26, 2007 @ 16:00

    Hi CB: I was enthusiastic starting out, but it has diminished with each chapter. I still have a bit more so I will refrain from saying anything substantial at this point. Stay tuned. I was expecting something like _Confederates in the Attic_; unfortuntely, Ferguson doesn’t really teach me anything about these various popular forms of remembrance. He seems more interested in concentrating on the humorous. Horwitz did that, but went further in terms of analysis and observation.

  • Clio Bluestocking Jun 26, 2007 @ 15:45

    Great list! Thank you!

    I’d love to hear what you think of that “Land of Lincoln” book. (I’d write about it myself, along with Sarah Vowell’s “Assasination Vacation” and what I saw in Springfield, but that would take something other than off-the-cuff effort, which is currently being taken up elsewhere.)

    In fact, you might want to add “Assasination Vacation” because she actually does deal quite a bit with the ways that Lincoln’s assasination is interpreted and remembered — or not — at various sites.

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