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 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 12:44 am
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wanderson
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Hello.  I apologize if this topic has been covered elsewhere, but I am looking for recommendations for the best general treatments of the war.  Do people recommend Foote or McPherson or Catton or Sears or others?  I'm making out a Xmas list and would like some advice.  Thank you.



 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 01:35 am
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ole
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Welcome, Wanderson. You ask a question with thousands of possible "best" answers.

First, what is your interest -- military, social, political, et alii? Second, where are you now; i.e., what have you read? What do you know? What do you want to know?

Without that information here's what you'll get: Foote, McPherson and Catton. All cover the entire period in a highly readable, however rather broad, fashion. Any of them will leave you hungering for more. Best thing about any of them is that all will let you discover wherein your more-specific area of interest lies.

McPherson is one fat book; Foote is three fat books; Catton is six moderate books. As mentioned, all three are highly readable, although Foote is arguably the best story-teller.

One good thing: all three are available on the secondary market. With the proper hinting (i.e., abebooks.com), you could score all three for less than $100.

ole



 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 02:37 am
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susansweet
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Good recommendations Ole . Add to it Bell Wiley's Johnny Reb and his other book Billy Yank and you have a good overview.
Those were two of the first books I read as I am more interested in the common soldier than the battle itself.
Johnny Reb was so interesting to read.
Susan



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 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 08:32 am
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ole
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I put Catton first, but that may be only because the first trilogy comprised my first books on the USCW. I've read all three and I'd be really, really hard put to say which was best. All were good reads and all covered pretty much the same territory. Catton and McPherson were perhaps the better historians, but golly, Foote was so much fun.

Go for all three, Wanderson. If you have to extend that request into birthdays and other anniversaries, so be it. You do have to read at least one of them, and you ought to have all three as the basis of your library.

We can talk about Nevins later.

ole



 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 09:56 am
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gettysburgerrn
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Cattons books are very very good..from there you can figure out what you are specifically interested in an taylor an even more detailed list...

ken



 Posted: Thu Oct 23rd, 2008 07:03 pm
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Don
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Catton is great, but I think I'd start with McPherson. It's a good single volume coverage of the entire war, where Catton's pretty Army of the Potomac-centric. McPherson does a good job of introducing everything, albeit briefly in some areas, then you can decide where to delve deeper on your own.



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 Posted: Thu Oct 23rd, 2008 08:06 pm
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Don
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Ed,

True, I should have mentioned that, but didn't want to start another long discussion on bias! LOL

The one I should have listed was the Golden Book that we've talked about on other threads, but I can't recall the exact title.



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 Posted: Thu Oct 23rd, 2008 09:49 pm
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susansweet
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Golden Book of the Civil War based on American Heritage Civil War by Bruce Catton



 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2008 02:08 am
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Captain Crow
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definitely the American Heritage Civil War! Followed closely by Shelby Foote's trilogy. As a grade-schooler I used to sit for hours looking over those cool illustrations of battles in the AHCW. And that's been a long time ago......heck I still like it now.



 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2008 11:31 am
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gettysburgerrn
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Its funny you mention that, just the other day I opened that book (which I probably hadnt opened in 5 yrs or so) and was mesmerized by the maps..I had totally forgotten how cool they were...

ken



 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2008 05:54 pm
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susansweet
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I was too old to get this book as a child . It came out when I was in high school. I have heard many of you talking about the book and searched for it on line. Had plans to order it.

Last month at our Civil War round table we had our book raffle and my number was called. I walked over to the table and there it was sitting there. Two people were still trying to decide what they wanted to take . I knew what I wanted. Reached over the one and took the Golden book. He said to me Hey you can't do that. I said I just did and sat down. I am now the very proud owner of a nice clean copy of the book you all have raved about and love it . The maps are wonderful. I can imagine me as a kid pouring over them as I was then and am now such a map person.
Susan



 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2008 07:57 pm
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fedreb
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I bought the Golden Book at a car boot sale some years ago, never opened it until I started reading this thread and must agree that the maps are, as Susan put it, wonderful. Don't know if it is out of print now, but if it is it should be re-issued to inspire a whole new bunch of young budding historians.



 Posted: Sat Oct 25th, 2008 01:37 am
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barrydancer
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Captain Crow wrote: definitely the American Heritage Civil War! Followed closely by Shelby Foote's trilogy. As a grade-schooler I used to sit for hours looking over those cool illustrations of battles in the AHCW. And that's been a long time ago......heck I still like it now.
I used to do the same thing.  My middle school library had an old copy of it that I used to pour over.

As for best histories, I think the best one-volume treatment is McPherson.  Very informative and easy to read.  From there, one can easily move on to more specific areas.



 Posted: Sat Oct 25th, 2008 01:45 am
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CleburneFan
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I vote for McPherson. His book details much of the important run up to the war. I wouldn't read that on my own, but because it was there, I learned a lot. Also, his book goes into the politics as well as the actual war. I wouldn't read much about Civil War politics on my own, but McPherson showed me the two are really inseparable.



 Posted: Sat Oct 25th, 2008 03:23 pm
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Captain Crow
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gettysburgerrn wrote: Its funny you mention that, just the other day I opened that book (which I probably hadnt opened in 5 yrs or so) and was mesmerized by the maps..I had totally forgotten how cool they were...

ken
They are definitely entrancing...and of course for a little boy from a predominantly military family  those tiny soldiers in the battle illustrations were irresistible.:cool:

Last edited on Sat Oct 25th, 2008 03:24 pm by Captain Crow



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