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Books we would like others to read - Idle Chit-Chat - The Lounge - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sat Mar 29th, 2008 03:30 am
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JoanieReb
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I got this idea from reading Ashbel's post on the Son of Qualities.... thread.  It reads, in part:

Has anyone else read the biography of John Boyd: "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot that Changed the Art of War"?  I have mentioned it several times but without a hint of recognition.  IMHO this is probably the best book at helping to understand modern military strategy and tactics. 

It got me thinking, it seems most everyone I know has discovered a special treasure of a book that they more than wish to recommend to others - one that they really  wish others would read. 

I've discovered things I never would have found on my own when someone thrusts his-or-her special discovery of a book into my hands and says, "Read This!"

So, I'm wondering:   If YOU out there could have others here, on this board, read one book that is special to you, which would it be?



 

Last edited on Sat Mar 29th, 2008 08:27 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Sat Mar 29th, 2008 03:51 pm
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CleburneFan
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Great question. Does it have to be JUST ONE? I will have to sit back and think about that for awhile.



 Posted: Sat Mar 29th, 2008 05:32 pm
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Johan Steele
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Just one... "These Honored Dead" by Desjardin as it explains how history gets written.



 Posted: Sat Mar 29th, 2008 10:19 pm
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susansweet
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I am very found of Bell Wiley's Johnny Reb. It was the first book I read in this latest journey though history. It still sticks to me when I read other books about the average soldier.

Newer books as I can't just do one, Shiloh by Cunningham and Stealing the General by Bond. I was reading them at the same time for two different groups. Couldn't put either down. I felt like I knew the men being written about in both books.
Susan



 Posted: Sun Mar 30th, 2008 12:36 am
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CleburneFan
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Here's one I'd suggest to women who are interested in the Civil War, but I doubt many men would find it interesting unless they might be writing a novel about the war. It is Drew Gilpin Faust's  Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War.

This books deals mainly with women of the plantation elite and what became of the world as they knew it and understood it when the war broke out.  While I thought women of lower classes would be discussed too, but they are brought into the book only sporadically.

 One reason may be that the wealthy women were educated and conducted a massive correspondence with their sons and husbands, brothers and fathers at war and their other female family members. They also kept diaries and journals even though some felt such an introverted activity was self-indulgent even while it was comforting too. 

All this writing left behind a considerable amount of material for primary sources about how these women adapted, suffered, mourned and surmounted the multitude of frustrations they faced daily. Their problems only deepened as the war dragged on. changing their lives in every way.  

The book is detailed and thorough, but one main theme runs throughout the book and that is of betrayal. Why? Because these elite women were raised to believe they were dependent, delicate, feminine creatures who needed the protection of males. In return for the protection, the men would make all the decisions, manage the slaves, run businesses, take care of daily economics, etc. Women needed only to be gracious, loving, faithful and charming. 

The betrayal came when all these fine, protective gentlemen left for the glory of war thrusting their wives, sisters, mothers and daughters into roles of responsibilty they were ill-equipped to handle. Often that included a level of physical labor unseemly for women of the upper classes.  Even childcare and meal preparation were unknown to them, formerly the purview of slaves. But slaves often ran away or rebelled against women's authority. Male slaves felt only other men could order them around.

As the war ground on women's sense of betrayal, inadequacy, anger, anxiety and disillusionment increased, even loss of belief in The Cause.

This book was a revealing examination of the women the gallant officers and soldiers left behind and the very different war-- a war with cultural change and unwelcome new female expectations on the home front in the South. It gives the reader a new perspective on the Civil War. What a book!

Last edited on Sun Mar 30th, 2008 12:40 am by CleburneFan



 Posted: Sun Mar 30th, 2008 06:12 pm
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ashbel
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Good topic, Joanie.  Cleburne Fan's post reminds me of a gem of a book and story that also recounts the life of a woman (and man) in the South before, during and after the war.  The book is "Surviving the Confederacy: Rebellion, Ruin and Recovery - Roger and Sara Pryor During the Civil War" by John C. Waugh.

Roger Pryor was a prominent Virginia lawyer, editor and member of Congress before the war.  he and his wife, Sara, lived in Washington and were well connected with the elite of the nation.  He was a "fire-eater" and was probably as responsible as anyone for Virginia joining the Confederacy.  He was even at Fort Sumter.

She was an accomplished and well educated lady of the south.  They were pre-war friends with everyone from Stephen Douglas to President Buchanan.

When the war starts he joins the Confederate Army. She lives in Petersburg.  The story follows their lives.  Roger had a somewhat undistinguished military career. Sara suffered all of the hardships of a woman in the South including the siege of Petersburg.  Much of the book is based on Sara's writings.  She is a brilliant and articulate lady.

Roger moves up to reach the rank of b. General.  However, he does not perform well and is not given a command for some time.  So he re-enlisted as a Private and served the balance of the war doing cavalry recon. in Virginia.

He returns home to Petersburg and they have nothing.  So he decides to return to the practice of law.  This is where the story takes a twist.  He decides to practice law in New York City!  He develops a successful law practice.  His wife and family join him in NYC.  He eventually becomes a judge on the New York Supreme Court.

This is well written book.  Better than a novel and a true story line more unbelievable than the wildest fiction.



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 04:39 pm
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booklover
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It's hard to pick just a few. What I pick today would likely not make the list tomorrow.

One of the greatest historians both in terms of writing ability and scholarship has to be C. Vann Woodward. His "Strange Career of Jim Crow" was called the bible of the civil rights movement by no less a personage than Martin Luther King Jr.

In terms of Civil War history, it's hard to beat Allan Nevins, James McPherson or even James Ford Rhodes, who wrote the first serious study of the Civil War era during the turn of the century, called "History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850" and is in 7 volumes.

For the pure poetry of his writing style, I would recommend Carl Sandburg's "Abraham Lincoln The War Years" although I obviously wouldn't expect one to stop with that. Benjamin Thomas's biography of Lincoln remains one of the best single volume studies superseded only by David Herbert Donald's book.

Non-Civil War, I would recommend the essays of E.B. White. I think he comes just about as close to perfection as anyone in terms of writing ability. His words melt in your mind just like good chocolate melts in your mouth.

Although I rarely read fiction, the novels of William Styron read just as good as the best non-fiction. "Sophie's Choice" was one of those rare gems where the movie and the book are equally good.

Best
Rob

Last edited on Mon Mar 31st, 2008 04:41 pm by booklover



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 05:49 pm
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Johan Steele
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susansweet wrote: I am very found of Bell Wiley's Johnny Reb. It was the first book I read in this latest journey though history. It still sticks to me when I read other books about the average soldier.

Newer books as I can't just do one, Shiloh by Cunningham and Stealing the General by Bond. I was reading them at the same time for two different groups. Couldn't put either down. I felt like I knew the men being written about in both books.
Susan


Susan gives a superb choice in Wiley's excellent work; I believe there is even a combined Life of Johnny Reb/Billy Yank in one volume available now.

I would also suggest either Hardtack & Coffee by Billing's or Watkin's Co Aytch.

For anyone interested in the firearms of the day I might suggest Edwards Civil War Guns or [size=Bilby's Civil War Firearms.]

[size=For the black soldiers experiance I would suggest: Glatthaar's Forged in Battle The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers, or Trudeau's Like Men of War.]
[size=
For the tactics and the how of battles and campaigns either of  Griffith's excellent works: Battle In the Civil War Generalship and Tactics in America 1861-65, or Battle Tactics of the Civil War.

 

For the uniforms & gear: Coggins, Arms and Equipment of the Civil War,  Troiani's, Regiments & Uniforms of the Civil War, or Echoes of Glory.
]



 Posted: Mon Mar 31st, 2008 11:34 pm
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susansweet
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Thanks Johan.  I love Hardtack and Coffee and Sam Watkins book also.  I got the new edition for Christmas from my brother's family. 

I have seen the double edition of Johnny Reb and Billy Yank.  I have both in single copies.  I think the Johnny Reb is the better of the two . Many of the issues he talks about in that book apply to both sides .  The Billy Yank is much more general. 

Susan



 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 02:09 am
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Dixie Girl
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White Christmas, Bloody Christmas and The Meaning Of Our Tears

they are based on the real murders of Charlie Lawson and his own family on Christmas day in the 1930's. everyone was killed except for the oldest son, and all were murdered by Charlie Lawson



Last edited on Wed Sep 17th, 2008 02:22 am by Dixie Girl



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 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 02:47 pm
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The book I most often recommend is "Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence ....," Brooks Simpson, editor.

We've all seen posts that say Sherman must have been a ____________ (fill in the blank) because he said "_______."

Frequently what "he said" is an excerpt from a letter. In this book, you can read all of that letter -- and the letters he wrote before it and after it. It puts the "what he said" in a larger context.

Warning! If you idolize Sherman, the book will moderate your opinion. If you vilify Sherman, the book will moderate your opinion (if you haven't completely locked up your brain).

Here is a book that doesn't tell you a thing about
Sherman; it is Sherman. You decide.

ole



 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 09:45 pm
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Kernow-Ox
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Unfortunately, the books I would like others to read are unrelated to the war. *

I have a recurring daydream in which my long-suffering friends turn to me and say 'K, where should I start on the American Civil War' - I would probably mention Wiley, Billings, and Watkins. I would, however, also give them my copy of Horowitz's 'Confederates in the Attic'. As it relates the war to the contemporary USA, especially the South, it should ease them into thinking about the various issues surrounding the period.

* For the record, the top two are Flaubert's 'Sentimental Education' and Johnson's 'The History of Rasselas'.  

Last edited on Tue Apr 1st, 2008 09:54 pm by Kernow-Ox



 Posted: Tue Apr 1st, 2008 10:40 pm
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ashbel
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Horowitz's "Confederates in the Attic." 

Here is a little story.  One evening I was having dinner with Frank O'Reilly - Historian for the Jackson Shrine at Fredericksburg NMP.  The subject of Horowitz's book came up.  "Horowitz owes me an employee." says Frank.

Do you remember the scene in the book where he sleeps on the porch at the Jackson Shrine with his realist reenactor buddy?  They wake up in the morning and the whole area is covered in a thick fog.

Frank had just hired a new employee.   As the employee arrived at work, the two "Confederate soldiers" were just getting up.  She saw them and rushed into the office and said:  "Mr. O'Reilly, I quit.  This place is haunted!"



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 01:31 am
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CleburneFan
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Ashbel--great story and so funny!

Kernow -Ox--I really, really enjoyed "Confederates in the Attic." It was one of those books that I simply couldn't put down and I let work pile up while I read it. Horowitz is such an engaging writer.



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 09:03 am
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susansweet
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Confederates in the Attic was actually recommended to me by a friend who has no real interest in the Civil War .  She knew I was interested . I was visiting her in the east .  We were doing what we love to do . Trolling a bookstore recommending books to each other .  I walked out with Confederates in the Attic.  She walked out with a mystery I had just read and recommended .  Has a WW1 setting to it .  Maise Dobbs . 

None Civil War books I would recommend to others are a book from the 50's called The Ninth Wave by Eugene Burdick.  I read it the summer before college.  That year all my friends were reading it because I made them.  There is a discription of going up the Ridge Route over the mountains and down the Grape Vine into the Great Central Valley of California that I think of everytime I take Interstate 5 to Northern California.  I hit the Grape Vine and think of the description as I see the valley laid out before me as I wind down though the canyon. 

The other book is a real strange one that Marie and I were talking about the other night.  It is called Trout Fishing in America written in the 60's by Richard Bradigan.  It is not about Trout Fishing in a way it is though.  It is a series of story.  My favorite being a teacher is the Trout Fishing in America Terrorist (third graders who write in chalk in the first graders back Trout Fishing in America)  Third Graders always hassle first graders it is a given.   The other story is The Cleveland Wrecking Yard where the main character goes to buy a trout stream.  Told you it was strange. 

My brother bought me this book for my birthday.  He had trout fishing in American painted on his guitar case.  This being my last year of college I was given all my friends this book for a gift . 

Susan



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 04:01 pm
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David White
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In the 60s and early 70s there was a folk rock band in San Diego call Trout Fishing in America.



 Posted: Thu Apr 3rd, 2008 01:39 am
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susansweet
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I am sure they got their name from the book.  I know one friend carried it with him when he traveled all over the country.  Mine I still pull off the shelf and read every once in a while. 

Susan



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