Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Civil War Books  

In honor of the Sesquicentennial of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, here are some favorites of mine, about, and set, during the Civil War. Pictured above is my hardcover collection of the North and South trilogy, and a 1967 hardcover copy of Gone with the Wind.

A BLUE AND GRAY CHRISTMAS by Lauralee Bliss, Vickie McDonough, Tamela Hancock Murray and Carrie Turansky: This book is actually four novellas in one anthology. The characters are both Union and Confederates who are forced to deal with each other in strenuous circumstances. I liked that the hero’s weren’t all soldiers for one side or the other, and most of the characters didn’t have stereo-typical view points.

GIDEON’S CALL by Peter Leavell: Winner of the 2012 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers guild Operation First Novel. Chronicles the events of Gideon’s Band, a program created to help train and educate former slaves. Historical accurate, emotionally intense, a delightful read. I especially loved the character Tad, a former slave child filled with abundance of gumption and spunk.    

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell: A wonderful sweeping drama set during the war the romantic narrative draws in the reader in. Much as I love the romance between Rhett and Scarlett, I didn’t like that it glossed over the inhumanity of slavery and portrayed the Yankee’s as a mass of heathens. Still, the book is very descriptive, and brimming with emotion. 

GREAT GAMBLES OF THE CIVIL WAR by Phillip Katcher: A great non-fiction book that gives accurate historical details and looks at famous battles from both sides. I was surprised at how much thought Sherman put into planning his infamous March to the Sea. It was interesting to read about lesser known skirmishes such as the Battle of Port Gibson which took place right before the siege at Vicksburg. What this book lacks in romance, it makes up for with a plethora of statistics and detailed maps of battles and towns.   

THE KILLER ANGELS by Micheal Sharra: This is part of a three book series with parts one and three written by Michael Shaara’s son Jeff. The book gives a realistic look at the Battle of Gettysburg. Told from a soldier’s point of view, it describes the day to day routines of those living in an army camp. Although this book isn’t dripping with romance, there are still plenty dramatic story lines and characters.       

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott: This book is about the four March sisters and their mother, whom they call Marme. The March sister’s father is away fighting in the Civil War. It gives an accurate account of how the war became part of the everyday lives of women of the North and how hard it was for the families left behind. A classic I read as a young teenager and reread many times since.

SAVANNAH, A GIFT FOR MR. LINCOLN by John Jakes: I loved this book, historically accurate it details the lives of Savannah’s common residents and how they coped with the invasion of Sherman’s Army. It didn’t paint the all Yankee’s in such dreadful light which I think is accurate.  

ROOTS by Alex Haley: Another wonderful sweeping drama with characters that come alive on the pages. Told from the point of view of the slaves, and drawn from Haley’s family history this book makes the reader care for the characters. Rich with emotion and poignancy, this book is an inspiration to read. I was a teenager when I first picked up this book that inspired a television mini-series, and I was captivated.       

THE NORTH AND SOUTH TRILOGY by John Jakes: The three books in this series are NORTH AND SOUTH, set during the antebellum era, LOVE AND WAR, which takes place during the war itself, and HEAVEN AND HELL set during Reconstruction.

I love the characters. The Main’s are rice plantation owners from South Carolina and the Hazzard family owns an iron foundry in Pennsylvania. Beginning with Orry and George’s friendship, this book paints a vivid narrative of the families as they become friends, and eventually fall in love and marry. Not to say everyone gets along well, especially during the four years of the war. There are moments of great tension and strife, even amongst Orry and George, but they find a way to stay connected and remain close until the last page in turned and the reader is reaching for the tissue box.

The historical accuracy is so great I learned more than just 1800’s vocabulary and ways of life. I learned what motivated those who fought and died in the war, about the thoughts and attitudes of those who lived at that time. The books so captivated me, I paid a good sum of money for the DVD set. This series comes highly recommended by me to anyone who has a hunger for knowledge about the Civil War.

 WALKING TO COLD MOUNTAIN by Carl Zebrowski: Inspired by the novel, Cold Mountain this non-fiction coffee table book takes a close look at real people who lived during the Civil War. Filled with pictures of actual photographs, maps, and interesting quotes of those famous in that day and age, this book is a great resource for those wanting to learn more about everyday life in the early 1860’s. 

I’ve also included a list of Civil War books I really want to read, but haven’t had the chance yet: ASHES IN THE WIND by Kathleen Woodiwiss, NO GREATER GLORY by Cindy Nord, and THE CIVIL WAR, A NARRATIVE written by famous historian, Shelby Foote.