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 Posted: Wed Sep 12th, 2007 10:47 pm
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Doc C
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I don't know if any of you have similar problems as I do choosing between the myriad of books out there and which one to purchase/which one is THE BEST/etc, i.e. Gettysburg - Coddington ?, Pfanz ?; Antietam - Sears ?, Priest ?, Murfin ?; The Wilderness - Rhea ? etc; Would like to hear from the responders on their recommendations for the various battles, cw topics, etc. I'm a sucker for books, as most of the participants of this board probably are but would like to have a least the best of the best.

Doc C



 Posted: Thu Sep 13th, 2007 12:35 am
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PvtClewell
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Fore!!!

Coddington's 'The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command' is still regarded by many as the definitive overview of the battle and the last I heard was still the basis on which the testing for the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides is based, even though it was published in 1963. Very readable.

Any Gettysburg book by Harry Pfanz is superior, although I found 'Gettysburg, The Second Day,' to be a scholarly and difficult read. But his 'Gettysburg — The First Day' and 'Gettysburg, Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill' are very readable. I refer to him constantly.

Sears' 'Gettysburg' is also very readable and he offers subjective insight as well, if you like that sort of thing. I also refer to him a lot.

I also enjoyed David Martin's 'Gettysburg July 1', although my first edition (1995) had numerous typos. Makes you wonder about the editing.

Gordon Rhea's series on the Overland Campaign is well written and for me, at least, brings a difficult-to-follow portion of the war into a little clearer focus, although I guess I'll never truly get a grip on the entire campaign.

Frank O'Reilly's 'The Fredericksburg Campaign' and George Rable's 'Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!' are both probably state of the scholarship on that battle, although I thought Rable was a little more readable.

For some reason I don't have Sears' 'Landscape Turned Red' in my library, although I do remember reading it. It's probably the best account of Antietam. His 'Chancellorsville' is also well done, as is Ernest Fergurson's 'Chancellorsville 1863.'

John Hennessey's 'Return to Bull Run' might be the best out there on Second Manassas. A good read.

Alan Nolan's 'Iron Brigade' is supposedly one of the best 100 books written on the Civil War. I liked it. Not bad for a lawyer.

Funny. I don't seem to have any books on the western theater. Hmm...



 Posted: Thu Sep 13th, 2007 12:49 am
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Doc C
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Unfortunately like you, don't have many books on the western theater other than Smiths - Champions Hill, Joiners - Red River Campaign, regimental diaries - Williams - Chicago Merchantile Battery, all excellent reads on their respective topics. For those out there, what about Shiloh, Vicksburg, Franklin, Atlanta authors?

We must be on the same page, have all of the above. As an aside, I've made a point to give Nolan a call the next time I'm working in Indianopolis since I have ancestors in the 2nd Wisconsin. You're correct, believe that Rhea is the best writor when it comes to the Wilderness/Overland Campaign. As you stated, numerous Gettysburg guides still use Coddington as the go to book for studying for the test but imho Pfanz gives a better more detailed description in his numerous texts.

Doc C



 Posted: Thu Sep 13th, 2007 02:58 am
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ole
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Doc:

You pays your money and you takes your chances. There are great books, good books, ok books, and trash.

I generally look at the publisher first. If it is UNCP or LSUP or Savas Beatie, it is a must-have. Second are many other university presses. Then we get into the Oxfords, Scribners, Doubledays, etc. These guys are in it for the money and, while watching their reputations, are likely to overplay the publicity nangle. All of which is not to say that a doggone good book cannot come out of a vanity press. White Mane and Stackpole have a habit of coming out with some good stuff. I'd be a bit leery of Jones Pub out of Knoxville (spurious invention), but one of the best books on Franklin/Spring Hill yet published comes out of O'More College of Interior Design. Go figure.

ole



 Posted: Thu Sep 13th, 2007 02:38 pm
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David White
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Hard to top the Private's suggestions for the unimportant eastern theater ;)

As to the west go with the new Cunigham/Joiner/Smith book for Shiloh.  Any of the battle books by Wiley Sword  and Cozzens are excellent too.  McDonoughs books are okay but not as in-depth.   I always thought Connelly's AoT books were as well written as Freeman's Lee's Lts. but sadly (for me) not as in depth.



 Posted: Fri Sep 14th, 2007 02:28 am
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Basecat
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Doc,

A few Western Campaign books I will recommend are Sword's book on Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville.  Just read it this summer, and the stuff on Nashville was the best part of the book.

"Sherman's Horsemen" by David Evans is one of my all time faves.  The book deals with the Cavalry Campaigns during the Atlanta Campaign.

Last but not least is Peter Cozzens's book on the Battles of Iuka and Corinth.  IMHO, it's the best book he has done on the Civil War.

Regards from the Garden State,

Steve Basic



 Posted: Sat Sep 15th, 2007 02:51 pm
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Johan Steele
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Cozzens assorted works are well done... if a bit short on maps.

Edwards work on CW arms is priceless if dated... still a lot of info and way ahead of its time.

Pretty much anything written by Glatthaar is not only a good read but well researched and imortant IMHO.

Paddy Griffith wrote two books on CW tactics that are priceless in understanding the way battles were really fought.

Anything by Robert Reilly is guaranteed to pretty much be the end all be all of firearms data.

I'm a huge fan of Sword, some say his works have a pro Southern slant... can't say I've really seen it though. IMO his works on Shiloh & Chattanooga are priceless.

Anything by Don Troiani is priceless in the visual reference it can provide. His research is as good as it gets.

The various works by Trudeau are both important and give well deserved attention to often overlooked subjects.

The work of Wiley is both visionary and priceless if a bit dated.

The various Echoes of Glory series is priceless for a visual reference to what the men carried.

Steven Woodworth wrote his seminal work on the Army of the Tennessee and frankly I look forward to anything else he writes.

Last edited on Sat Sep 15th, 2007 02:53 pm by Johan Steele



 Posted: Sat Sep 15th, 2007 03:33 pm
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ole
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And there you have it, Doc C. All over the map. When you've read 20 books on Gettysburg, then you get to decide which is the best.

If you run out and buy each book suggested, you will have an enjoyable, reliable library. But there will always be "that book" that offers a revisionist alternative on a small but vital part. Of course, everyone is talking about it and you must have it.

It is somewhere near this point that the "significant other" starts rolling eyes and sighing. When you can't wait for the kid to get married so you can commandeer the room. Then come the snide remarks. "How many books do you need?" Or, "Why not wait until you've read all the bm!$#@@%7;i38=6t books you already have?"

It's not easy being a CW fan.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 15th, 2007 10:56 pm
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Doc C
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Ole

I've read the majority of major histories on Gettysburg and would agree that Pfanz's books are up there with the best or the best on the best. Have a great, understanding soul mate. Tolerates my civil war, geneology and golf obsessions. If the day ever comes where my book purchase total ever matches her spending totals, I could easily either open up my own store or branch of the library. Was in the Alexandria/Arlington/DC area today, found Bartleby's Books at the corner of M St./29th (a real b----h to get to because you have to deal with the Georgetown area traffic/no real close metro stop/good luck finding a parking space) but I thought it was well worth it - some rare first edition regimental histories, etc. Did buy Tom Broadfoot's - Civil War Books and Richard Taylor's - Destruction & Reconstruction which looked interesting. Also, stopped by Arlington National Cemetery to find an ancestors gravesite and see the Lee mansion without its furniture. Always unexpectantly find famous gravesites on my visits, this time Gibbons and Chenault (Flying Tigers leader).


Doc C



 Posted: Sat Sep 15th, 2007 11:54 pm
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ole
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Sounds like your soulmate's level of tolerance exceeds, to a degree, that of my own. I don't shoot golfs (couldn't figure out how to skin the one I did shoot), so I only get: "when are you going to get up off your arse and do something?" Secretly, I think she's grateful that I don't hang around with the guys in bars and pretend we know what to do with the women who are doing the same thing.

If you've read the major works on Gettysburg, then you already know where you're going next. I've heard (and now for the brain stall) a recent book on Imboden's management of the retreat sounds like it is well worth having. I think I went and got it, but I don't see it on the shelves. Anyway, there are so many of those "little" books that appear to be of great value. One also recent example is Wittenberg and Petrozzi's "Plenty of Blame to Go Around." Small piece of the entire action, but an exhaustive study and, I hear, well worth having if you care about that sort of thing. And Imhof has a book of maps just out which may very well be better than Bachelder's. There's always another must-have book just around the corner.

ole



 Posted: Sun Sep 16th, 2007 12:21 am
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Doc C
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A passage from Broadfoot's book pretty much sums it up for me - collecting books had it's advantages, even virtues, over some of the alternatives: booze, gambling, chasing skirts, chasing pants, experimental airplanes - everything, except maybe fishing. In becoming a civil war book collector, Harry is gaining a bit of knowledge, he's home reading the books, he's not catching anything from the books, better yet, he's not giving it to you and he won't leave you for the books. Your marriage is, in fact, secured by the books because Harry knows that if your union flounders, he will have to sell the books and give you half the money. So, you cohorts of collectors, be of good cheer as you step over the stacks in the hall and dust around the shelves. Books ar, by far, the lesser of available evils.

Doc C



 Posted: Tue Sep 18th, 2007 01:13 am
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booklover
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Trouble is, there's too many books being published every year. I would have to live 20 lives to be able to read everything I own (and others that I don't that I want to read).

Best
Rob



 Posted: Tue Sep 18th, 2007 01:13 am
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booklover
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Joe,
Seems to be working fine now. Thanks.

Best
Rob



 Posted: Tue Sep 18th, 2007 01:42 am
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javal1
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bl,

Thrilled to hear it. Good to see you back.



 Posted: Wed Sep 19th, 2007 05:21 am
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ijontichy
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For the Vicksburg campaign there is no competition: Edwin Bearss's three-volume magnum opus. A worthwhile investment. A complementary book that I have the highest praise for is Ninety Eight Days: A Geographer’s View of the Vicksburg Campaign, by Warren E. Grabau. It is a model for how campaign books should be written.

Edit: Just wanted to add a mention of Joe Harsh's books on the Maryland Campaign, Taken at the Flood and Confederate Tide Rising.

Also, a friendly warning to not concentrate your reading entirely on military matters. Politics played an enormous role in the civil war, at every level you can think of. For example, teach yourself about the Whig Party, and see what affect its fall had on US politics leading up to and during the civil war.

Last edited on Wed Sep 19th, 2007 05:29 am by ijontichy



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