If you’re looking for some good reading on the American Civil War, may I suggest the following titles below? I’m not sure if the Civil War exceeds World War II in the volume of publications it incites, but it’s got to be close at least. Which is an indirect way of saying that no recommended reading list can ever claim to be comprehensive. But I’m finding the books below to be intriguing, insightful, and/or provocative. Some I have yet to look at, others I’m in the process of reading in my copious spare time. I’ll give more extended comments on them at a later date, as this week is quite action-packed, and I have another chapter to finish revising. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to the list below; they’re simply books I’ve come across that seem to address some aspect of the Civil War that I’ve long wanted to know more about. Some are strong candidates for required or supplemental reading, should I ever teach a Civil War course. Others are more for personal curiosity (for example, the various studies about North Carolina’s experience in the war). Well, speaking of North Carolina, I have to say that the UNC press holds the lion’s share of quality Civil War publications. Anyway…
Confederacy in general, and battles:
Kenneth W. Noe, Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861. Provocative, and essential reading on morale and motivation.
Victoria E. Bynum, The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies.
Daniel W. Crofts, Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis.
Mark A. Weitz, More Damning than Slaughter: Desertion in the Confederate Army. A crucial book for understanding the Southern war-machine and war-making capacity.
Kent Masterson Brown. Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign. Ok, this book I know of only by reputation, but supposedly it’s one of the very best operational studies to be published in the last twenty years or so…So it’s high on my reading list right now.