Recent Book Acquisitions: June 2008

by Brett Schulte on June 19, 2008 · 3 comments

I’ve wanted to reintroduce this type of post ever since I started blogging regularly again. I am currently in the middle of reading Phillip E. Myers’ Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations. Myers argues against the previously common supposition that intervention by European powers Britain and France was possible and even likely during the Civil War. I’m about halfway through, and Myers makes a very solid and compelling case to overturn long held conclusions. I was especially impressed by his comparisons of the British and American cabinet crises of late 1862. Myers draws some interesting parallels in the discussion. His overriding theme always goes back to the title of the book, that Great Britain and America always exercised caution and cooperation when dealing with each other from 1815 on, and that while the Civil War was a large and potentially divisive event, this antebellum policy continued to hold sway throughout the entire war.

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The next book I’d like to write a little about is fairly unique among those I’ve purchased. The Stone’s River Campaign 26 December 1862 – 5 January 1863: The Union Army is a self-published effort by Lanny K. Smith. Weighing in at 732 pages, this massive work attempts to follow each and every Union unit involved in the Stone’s River Campaign from start to finish. I counted 45 hand drawn maps which portray the fighting in an incredible level of detail. I hope to wade into this volume some time in July, as I have a few other books to read and review before I can get to it. In just skimming through the book, wargamers will especially appreciate the level of detail contained therein. I highly recommend the book to those of you interested in detailed tactical studies of battles. Act quickly, too, because Smith only had 330 copies made. I received number 35 of 330 myself. If you want to get in touch with the author directly go to the link provided earlier in this paragraph or click on the book’s image to the left. I will be interested to see what Drew Wagenhoffer thinks of this one.

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I’m excited to have received One Continuous Fight just several days ago. Written by Eric Wittenberg, J.D. Petruzzi, and Mike Nugent, the book covers the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg and the pursuit by Meade’s Army of the Potomac. The authors promise a book complimentary to rather than competing with Kent Masterson Brown’s excellent book Retreat From Gettysburg on the same subject. Wittenberg and Petruzzi have both been blogging recently on their seemingly neverending book singing tour. It’s refreshing to see authors who get the need to promote their own work. This one appears to be more of a tactical study of the numerous clashes which occurred between Gettysburg and the crossing of the Potomac River by Army of Northern Virginia at Williamsport and Falling Waters. As the books full title indicates, the narrative covers events from July 4-14, 1863.

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Unfurl Those Colors: McClellan, Sumner, and the Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion V. Amrstrong, Jr. is one book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I discovered the title. The Union II Corps was involved in some of the most desperate and bloody fighting on what was a most desperate and bloody day. Sedgwick’s division, led personally by Sumner, was decimated in a matter of minutes in the West Woods. French assaulted the Sunken Road, followed by Richardson’s division, including the famed Irish Brigade. It will be interesting to see how tactically detailed this one is. Judging by the maps, the book will be right up my alley and filled with the detail I enjoy in campaign studies.

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By all accounts, David W. Reed’s The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged is an excellent account of the eponymous battle it covers. Originally published in 1902, park rangers at the Shiloh battlefield and other researchers interested in the battle have been referring back to Reed’s work. The University of Tennessee Press has released a new edition of this work edited by Timothy B. Smith. In a somewhat unusual publishing decision, the book includes a CD which contains all of the maps. I definitely look forward to seeing how this is going to look. I am also curious as a collector what this will do to the book when it is sold on the used book market. I’m also curious as to how many years we will be able to view the CD before the technology becomes obsolete. In any case, I commend the UT Press and Tim Smith for making this important work available in an accessible, attractive, and affordable edition.

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The last book I wanted to touch on this time around is Brent Nosworthy’s new volume Roll Call to Destiny: The Soldier’s Eye View of Civil War Battles.  As the title suggests, Nosworthy focuses on the view from the ground at selected battles throughout the war.  I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s earlier work on the tactics of the Civil War, Bloody Crucible of CourageChris Wehner suggested this effort wasn’t as ambitious as he had hoped, so I am tempering my expectations as a result.  However, I am still eager to get to this one.

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I’ll try to proceed at a pace of a book every 7-10 days, though this will inevitably be adjusted upwards in some cases.  I typically review books on Mondays, so check for reviews of the preceding volumes over the coming weeks this summer, and by all means buy copies for yourselves!


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Drew W. June 19, 2008 at 11:30 am

Brett,
The Reed maps are in .pdf format and I assume we can copy them to the hard drive and use them forever using constantly updated software, but you’re obviously right about the finite lifespan of the disc itself. The book is basically a straight facsimile reprint with no modern notations, so I would guess its collectible value won’t be terribly significant.

Recently on Ebay a 1909 rev. edition in really exceptional condition with the pullout color maps sold for around $30+ (IIRC). I rather thought it would go for more.

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Stephen Graham June 19, 2008 at 11:43 pm

I’ll be interested to see your comments on Armstrong’s work. It didn’t quite work for me. It’s got a sufficiency of tactical detail. It doesn’t do what Armstrong said it would do, which is look at how Second Corps functioned on a command level. Also, when the fighting stops, so does the narrative. More conclusions and analysis would have been welcome.

Myers’ is a book I’m looking forward to. I just haven’t purchased it yet – need to check if it’s at my local independent bookstore before ordering it elsewhere.

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