The recent Civil War Bloggers Top 10 Gettysburg Books list turned out well, so well that I immediately contacted the members of the Shiloh Discussion Group to see if they would join me in creating another combined list, this time of the Top 7 Shiloh books, which will appear this August at TOCWOC on a permanent page designed for this event. SDG members have been posting their lists of the Top 7 Shiloh books over the last month with a deadline of August 1. What you see below is my own personal list of the Top 7 Shiloh books. Each other member who posts a list in the SDG thread on the topic will also see that list posted here at TOCWOC in early August. Once all lists have been posted, the combined list will be published. In this way, I and my fellow Shiloh Discussion Group members hope to offer new TOCWOC readers and SDG members a concise list of good Shiloh books, books which will help further their understanding of this popular and important Civil War battle. Enough with the talking. Here’s my list, the first of many which will be appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next few weeks.
Top 7 Shiloh Books
- Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War by Larry J. Daniel
Of the three general “campaign and battle studies” I list in my top 7, I think Daniel’s is the best overall. I also found it to be the best read of the three, though what I consider a good interesting read may vary wildly from may others considering my interest in wargaming!
- The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged by D.W. Reed
Reed, a Shiloh veteran and the first historian of the Shiloh National Military Park, was obsessed with the battle. This book, despite placing too much importance on the Hornet’s Nest at the expense of the other fighting on April 6, is the foundation for further research. My recent review of the book was very favorable.
- Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 by Edward O. Cunningham
This classic study of the campaign, not well known among the general public for decades but touted by those with an intense interest in Shiloh, has been beautifully restored by Tim Smith and Gary Joiner and published by Savas Beatie. As with any Savas Beatie book, you know the maps will be plentiful, and they are!
- Shiloh: Bloody April by Wiley Sword
I read Sword’s book a long, long time ago just as I was getting into detailed campaign studies, and it didn’t grab me as much as Daniel’s book did, which I read around the same time. It’s not a bad book by any means. I included it in my Top 7 Shiloh books after all!
- This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park by Timothy B. Smith
Civil War Historiography or “memory” is all the rage right now. I have to admit I find studies which look at not the history of the battle itself but instead how the battle’s interpretation has changed over time to be fascinating.
- Seeing the Elephant: Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh by Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves
Seeing the Elephant is not a Shiloh battle study, but instead uses soldier letters and diaries to explore how men seeing battle for the first time (and at Shiloh of all places, what an introduction!) felt and acted in that situation.
- U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Shiloh edited by Jay Luvaas, Stephen Bowman, and Leonard Fullenkamp
The U.S. Army War College Guide series format is probably very familiar to many of you, with Official Records excerpts from leaders on both sides accompanied by maps in a “Staff Ride” format. This is a great book to take along the next time (you HAVE been there, right?) you visit the Shiloh Battlefield.
Other Candidates for the Top 7 Shiloh Books List That Didn’t Make The Cut:
- The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield by Timothy B. Smith
- The Shiloh Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland) edited by Steven E. Woodworth
- Shiloh: A Novel by Shelby Foote
- Shiloh 1862: The Death of Innocence by James Arnold
- The Shiloh Campaign: March – April 1862 by David G. Martin
- Shiloh—In Hell Before Night by James L. McDonough
Please note that fellow bloggers Drew Wagenhoffer and Nick Kurtz have chosen their Top 7 Shiloh books as well and have posted these on their respective blogs.
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