Brett’s Book Purchases: September 2007, Part 1

Book Purchases: September 2007 Books #1-10

Note: Those of you who followed my now defunct blog American Civil War Gaming & Reading will instantly recognize the format and reasons for this blog entry. For anyone new, my purpose is to post a list of books I’ve bought in the past month, provide information on and links to the books, and (hopefully) receive feedback from readers who have already read them.

I’ve been away from even reading Civil War books over the last few months. I think the pressure to constantly produce (hopefully!) relevant and interesting blog entries burned me out. Now that I’ve taken steps to rectify that situation with this group blog, I went out and purchased quite a few new books this month, a total of 31 in all. I owe a great deal of debt to Drew Wagenhoffer for a lot of books in this list. In fact, this entry will focus on some of those books I bought as a result of reading Drew’s blog. His Civil War Books and Authors blog routinely lists interesting and potentially obscure books that I would never have thought to buy otherwise. I’ll be mentioning the blog entries on Drew’s site for any of the books listed below and provide links. If you haven’t heard of a certain book, Drew’s reviews should tell you all you need to know.

Russel Beatie.Army of the Potomac: McClellan’s First Campaign, March – May 1862. Savas Beatie, LLC (May 5, 2007). There have been multiple takes and interesting discussions on Russel Beatie’s massive undertaking, an incredibly detailed multi-volume history of the Union Army of the Potomac at the command level. This seems to be a bit of a polarizing series, with little in between. Dimitri Rotov loves the series because Beatie does not repeat the same Sears-led criticisms of George McClellan, instead using his decades of research to come to his own conclusions. Drew Wagenhoffer thinks this is an incredibly important addition to the literature on the Army of the Potomac, while noting some issues including poor editing (hopefully corrected now that Savas Beatie is publishing the series rather than Da Capo), a somewhat strange tendency to convert indirect discourse to direct discourse, and some small factual errors. There is a much less positive thread on this series at the Yahoo Civil War forum noting the factual errors and lack of editing. I myself tend to fall more in the positive camp, noting that there may be some small errors and somewhat sloppy editing (at least in the first two volumes), but I love the fact that a study of this level of detail is being written while relying mainly on primary sources to come to conclusions very different from the Centennial view of Civil War history.

Raymond Mulesky. Thunder from a Clear Sky: Stovepipe Johnson’s Confederate Raid on Newburgh, Indiana. iUniverse Star (August 8, 2006). This is an interesting one. Author Raymond Mulesky used Print On Demand (POD) publisher iUniverse, and it appears he had a very good experience based on this interview with Drew Wagenhoffer. As you can probably guess, I first heard about this one over at Drew’s blog. I bought the hardcover version of the book, and it really looks good, POD publisher or not. Other than that, I know almost nothing about this particular raid, so I look forward to reading it.

Gary Livingston.Fields of Gray, Battle of Griswoldville, November 22, 1864. Caisson Press (August 1, 1996). Drew has mentioned this book several times, including in this post. I’ve read Livingston’s work on Fort McAllister already and found that the editing was a little lacking. I’ve heard similar stories about this book as well. Despite this, I’m looking forward to reading about this battle, which involved Sherman’s grizzled veterans on their march to the sea taking on a hastily assembled roadblock consisting of units of the Georgia Militia and Georgia State Line.

Eva Margaret Carnes.The Tygarts Valley Line June-July 1861. McClain Publishing Company (2003). Drew first mentioned this one in a book review. He also included it in a list of his favorite titles on West Virginia in the Civil War. The book was first published in 1961 and has since been reissued in 2003. It covers the Battle of Philippi during McClellan’s foray into what would become West Virginia. I believe there are some reasonably priced used copies at Abebooks if anyone is interested in picking up a copy.

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Tim McKinney.Robert E Lee at Sewell Mountain: The West Virginia Campaign. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Inc. (1993). This one was also listed in Drew’s favorite books on West Virginia in the Civil War. It also covers a portion of the West Virginia Campaign of 1861. The book is now out of print, but there are a few copies available for very little on Amazon.

Darrell L. Collins.The Jones-Imboden Raid: The Confederate Attempt to Destroy the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Retake West Virginia. McFarland (July 31, 2007). Drew has mentioned this one here and here. In addition, there is an interesting discussion on the book going on at the Civil War Discussion Group. Several of the blog authors here are also members of that forum. I’ve mentioned that McFarland’s book prices are pretty pricey, and this paperback book is no exception to that rule. It will set you back $35 for a brand new copy if you are interested in the topic.

Russell S. Bonds.Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor. Westholme Publishing (October 15, 2006). This book first came to my attention as a recommendation on, but after I read Drew’s review praising the book profusely I knew I’d probably enjoy this story of James Andrews and his attempt to steal the Confederate locomotive General in 1862. Apparently the book has been selected by no less than three history book clubs as well.

David Bard.Civil War, the New River Valley, 1861-1865: 3 One-Day Driving Tours. Quarrier (January 2004). This is the first of three books I picked up from the West Virginia Publishing Company web site, and all three are listed as some of Drew’s favorite West Virginia Campaign books. As the title suggests, this is a tour guide of the Civil War in west Virginia’s New River Valley. I hope someday to use this one in person, but I’ve only been to West Virginia once before in my life. This is a fairly priced paperback of sturdy construction and containing many, many maps.

Richard A. Sauers.The Devastating Hand of War; Romney, West Virginia, During the Civil War. Gauley Mount Press (June 1, 2000). I read and reviewed the H.E. Howard Virginia Battles and Leaders book on the Romney Campaign several years ago, so this one caught my attention as something I’d be interested in picking up. It will be interesting to see how Sauers’ account differs from the earlier book. Speaking of Sauers, if you can find his OP book A Succession of Honorable Victories, concentrating on Burnside’s 1862 North Carolina expedition, by all means do so. It is a model campaign study. If this book is even half as well written as that one I will enjoy it tremendously.

Jonathan A. Noyalas.Plagued By War: Winchester, Virginia During the Civil War. Gauley Mount Press (November 10, 2003). I’ sure most of you have heard the story about Winchester changing hands during the war something like 72 times. It is truly amazing when you stop and think about that number. I am not sure how Union and Confederate sympathizers endured that much disruption in their day to day lives, including three battles fought around the town. I really look forward to reading this one. It appears to be similar to the Romney book above, concentrating on the town and also on the military events which occurred there. Both this book and Sauers’ effort are smallish hardcovers that appear to be concise histories of these two Virginia towns during the Civil War.



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