Book Purchases: September 2007 Books #11-20
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. This second set of ten books includes the last few titles I bought based on Drew’s recommendations over at Civil War Books and Authors. After that, I’ll get into some of my eBay and Abebooks purchases.
Bradley Gottfried. The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863. Savas Beatie (June 2007). I try to keep up with what publisher Savas Beatie has coming out quite regularly, as they routinely produce some of the finest campaign and battle studies around, filled to the brim with high quality maps. Drew Wagenhoffer noted this book in his recent arrivals in July as well. The Maps of Gettysburg is essentially exactly what it says it is, a book chock full of detailed strategic and tactical maps covering the entire Gettysburg Campaign. A page worth of text accompanies each map off to the left. Most of the Amazon.com reviews seem to be quite complementary so far. This one would make an excellent reference work for wargamers of all sorts.
Scott C. Patchan. Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign. University of Nebraska Press (June 1, 2007). I first heard about this title over at Drew’s blog, as has been a theme. Drew interviewed author Scott Patchan as the book was nearing publication. Many readers may be thinking this book covers Early’s trip north into Maryland, the Battle of Monocacy, and the race for Washington, D.C. Others may think of Sheridan’s arrival and subsequent victory over Early later in 1864. This book actually covers the time period in between these two events, including the battles of Cool Spring, Rutherford’s Farm, and Second Kernstown, and also McCausland’s raid on Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I know very little about this time frame, but a another good place to go for an introduction is this issue of Blue & Gray Magazine. The main article is also authored by Patchan, so expect strong similarities to this book. The author also had an interview with host Gerry Prokopowicz recently (hat tip to Dimitri for this information) on Civil War Talk Radio. I was a little uncomfortable listening to Gerry P’s line of questioning regarding the book. In the radio interview mentioned above, the host seemed to call Patchan out quite a bit for writing a book that might not appeal to the masses. In other words, the Professor called the author out for writing a standard campaign study focusing solely on the strategy and tactics involved. As many of you know, I enjoy this type of book quite a bit, and I’ll gladly buy other Patchan books if they follow this very same mold. I have not really heard this type of questioning in the interview of other authors, especially those writing more about the social or political aspects of the war. I hope Civil War Talk Radio does not go the way of Civil War History, published by Kent State. In any event, I look forward to learning more about this neglected set of battles that led to Sheridan’s assignment to the Shenandoah.
Steven M. Mayeux. Earthen Walls, Iron Men: Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, and the Defense of Red River. Univ Tennessee Press; 1 edition (August 15, 2007). Drew reviewed this book earlier in September. It had been sitting in my Amazon Wish List for quite awhile, but Drew’s very positive review sold me on finally putting it in my shopping cart. As the title makes clear, Ft. DeRussy guarded the lower Red River valley from Union incursions supported by gunboats.
Both books were reviewed by Drew on his site, which is the only way I heard about these titles covering two obscure Florida battles in 1864. Author Dale Cox has a nice web site set up that ties in nicely with his books. He also blogs on Florida in the Civil War. I wish more authors would be this proactive and I look forward to reading these two titles.
Andrew Ward. River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War. Viking Adult (September 22, 2005). Drew reviewed this one as well. It appears he categorized it as more of a popular history than a scholarly account of the battle and the controversy it spawned. It will be interesting to compare this volume to another work on Fort Pillow, An Unerring Fire by Richard L. Fuchs. Neither of these books got particularly good reviews at Amazon.com, though I suspect that some of the good or bad reviews have more to do with the racial biases of reviewers rather than the actual value of these books.
NOTE: This marks the cutoff between books I purchased after browsing through Drew’s blog and books I found randomly on used book services such as Abebooks, eBay, and Amazon.
Richard L. Fuchs. An Unerring Fire: The Massacre at Fort Pillow. Stackpole Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2002). I picked this one up on eBay earlier in the month. Unfortunately, this book appears to have had quite a bit of criticism leveled in its direction since it was published. Reading the title itself is pretty revealing, clearly indicating what Mr. Fuchs thinks happened that day. Other criticisms include an overuse of secondary sources, accusations that this is an agenda driven account that fails to concede even the possibility of anything other than a massacre, and an odd use of modern psychoanalysis on Forrest. Apparently neither book on Fort Pillow is a definitive account, something I eagerly await but have my doubts on. Trying to wade through an event as emotionally charged as Fort Pillow while remaining emotionally detached and evenhanded in analysis may be extremely difficult.
Jack Hurst. Men of Fire: Grant, Forrest, and the Campaign That Decided the Civil War. Perseus Books Group (July 2007). Based on the strange decision to include Forrest, a relatively minor but subsequently well-known individual, in the subtitle immediately arouses my suspicions that this book will be more of a popular history of the campaigns from Fort Henry and Fort Donelson to Nashville than some of the other books I’ve read on the subject. The Amazon reviews are a bit inconclusive on this assessment, so I will have to read this one and decide for myself.
R. Thomas Campbell. Storm over Carolina: The Confederate Navy’s Struggle for Eastern North Carolina. Cumberland House Publishing (December 30, 2005). I know next to nothing about the riverine struggle over eastern North Carolina, so this book intrigues me. If anyone has any information or thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
John Marszalek. Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order. Free Press (October 23, 1992). This one is a part of my growing collection of modern biographies of major players in the war. I do not know too much on Marszalek’s look at Sherman’s life, having bought this on eBay at a very good price.