Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading List. . .2012!

Well. . .it's that time again. The time to look ahead--in eager anticipation--at all the books scheduled for release next year with that proverbial 'kid-in-a-candy-store' feeling. 2012 looks to be a promising year, especially with the Sesquicentennial of so many important events and major battles (announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation; Shiloh; Seven Days'; Second Bull Run; South Mountain and Antietam, of course, and Fredericksburg to name a few).

I am certainly looking forward to a years' worth of good reading. So, without any further ado and in no particular order, the following pending publications caught my attention and have made my must-read books's list for 2012. Whether I actually get around to reading all of them is another story, but the purchases will at least be made. Time to clear some space on the bookshelves. . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the UnionBy Fergus Bordewich (Simon & Schuster, April 2012)

Description: The spellbinding story behind the longest debate in U.S. Senate history: the Compromise of 1850, which brought together Senate luminaries on the eve of the Civil War in a desperate effort to save the Union.The Mexican War introduced vast new territories into the United States, including California and the present-day Southwest. California appealed to join the Union, but would it and the other territories be admitted as slave or free? The Senate was precariously balanced with fifteen free states and fifteen slave. Southerners asserted that they would not tolerate any imbalance in their disfavor.
Henry Clay, one of the greatest figures in Senate history, tried to forge a compromise that would fulfill the dream of manifest destiny. At the same time a related crisis erupted over the boundary of New Mexico and Texas with the latter threatening to go to war. Clay’s efforts to resolve both problems failed. Instead a young senator from Illinois, the self-proclaimed new voice of “the West,” Stephen A. Douglas, devised a tortuous compromise that preserved the Union, at least for another decade. As Senate lions such as Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun exited, Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and William H. Seward replaced them. A new era dawned.
Riveting and dramatic, America’s Great Debate brilliantly recreates a critical moment when America fractured but did not break.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War & Reconstruction
By Allen Guelzo (Oxford University Press, May 2012)

Description: The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges.In Fateful Lightning, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South. Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict
BY Andre Fleche (The University of North Carolina Press, March 2012)

Description: It was no coincidence that the Civil War occurred during an age of violent political upheaval in Europe and the Americas. Grounding the causes and philosophies of the Civil War in an international context, Andre M. Fleche examines how questions of national self-determination, race, class, and labor the world over influenced American interpretations of the strains on the Union and the growing differences between North and South. Setting familiar events in an international context, Fleche enlarges our understanding of nationalism in the nineteenth century, with startling implications for our understanding of the Civil War.Confederates argued that European nationalist movements provided models for their efforts to establish a new nation-state, while Unionists stressed the role of the state in balancing order and liberty in a revolutionary age. Diplomats and politicians used such arguments to explain their causes to thinkers throughout the world. Fleche maintains that the fight over the future of republican government in America was also a battle over the meaning of revolution in the Atlantic world and, as such, can be fully understood only as a part of the world-historical context in which it was fought.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi
By Earl J. Hess (The University of North Carolina Press, March 2012)

Description: The Western theater of the Civil War, rich in agricultural resources and manpower and home to a large number of slaves, stretched 600 miles north to south and 450 miles east to west from the Appalachians to the Mississippi. If the South lost the West, there would be little hope of preserving the Confederacy. Earl J. Hess's comprehensive study of how Federal forces conquered and held the West examines the geographical difficulties of conducting campaigns in a vast land, as well as the toll irregular warfare took on soldiers and civilians alike. Hess balances a thorough knowledge of the battle lines with a deep understanding of what was happening within the occupied territories.In addition to a mastery of logistics, Union victory hinged on making use of black manpower and developing policies for controlling constant unrest while winning campaigns. Effective use of technology, superior resource management, and an aggressive confidence went hand in hand with Federal success on the battlefield. In the end, Confederates did not have the manpower, supplies, transportation potential, or leadership to counter Union initiatives in this critical arena.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Union Forever: Lincoln, Grant, and the Civil War
By John Y. Simon, edited by Glenn LaFantasie (The University Press of Kentucky, March 2012)

Description: John Y. Simon was a giant in the field of Civil War-era history whose groundbreaking work on Grant was at the forefront of his generation's reevaluation of Grant's wartime acumen and his controversial presidency, earning him a lifetime achievement award from the Lincoln Forum in 2004 and a Lincoln Prize in 2005. In The Union Forever: Lincoln, Grant, and the Civil War, editor Glenn W. LaFantasie brings together some of Simon's most significant work on two towering figures of their era.
The essays in The Union Forever explore the relationship between the two leaders and their influence on each other as well as their individual accomplishments and struggles. Simon illuminates Lincoln's emancipation policy and his struggles as commander in chief. Other essays explore General Grant's military career and leadership as well as the influence his wife had on his life. Drawing from Simon's most prominent work as well as his lesser-known writing, The Union Forever allows veteran scholars to revisit classic works and makes available to new generations of readers Simon's perspectives on America's greatest leaders during a time of crisis and change.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

George Henry Thomas: As True As Steel
By Brian Steel Wills (University Press of Kansas, March 2012)

Description: Although often counted among the Union’s top five generals, George Henry Thomas has still not received his due. A Virginian who sided with the North in the Civil War, he was a more complicated commander than traditional views have allowed. Brian Wills now provides a new and more complete look at the life of a man known to history as “The Rock of Chickamauga,” to his troops as “Old Pap,” and to General William T. Sherman as a soldier who was “as true as steel.”
While biographers have long been hampered by Thomas’s lack of personal papers, Wills has drawn on previously untapped sources—notably the correspondence of Thomas’s contemporaries—to offer new insights into what made him tick. Focusing on Thomas’s personality and motivations, Wills contributes revealing discussions of his style and approach to command and successfully captures his troubled interactions with other Union commanders, providing a particularly more evenhanded evaluation of his relationship with Grant. He also gives a more substantial account of battlefield action than can be found in other biographies, capturing the ebb and flow of key encounters—Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga and Atlanta, Stones River and Mill Springs, Peachtree Creek and Nashville—to help readers better understand Thomas’s contributions to their outcomes.
Throughout Wills presents a well-rounded individual whose complex views embraced the worlds of professional military service and scientific inquisitiveness, a man known for attention to detail and compassion to subordinates. We also meet a sharp-tempered person whose disdain for politics hurt his prospects for advancement as much as it reflected positively on his character, and Wills offers new insight into why Thomas might not have progressed as quickly up the ladder of command as he might have liked.
More deeply researched than other biographies, Wills’s work situates Thomas squarely in his own time to provide readers with a more thorough and balanced life story of this enigmatic Union general. It is a definitive military history that gives us a new and needed picture of the Rock of Chickamauga—a man whose devotion to duty and ideals made him as true as steel.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation: African-Americans and the Fight for FreedomBy Glenn David Brasher (The University of North Carolina Press, April 2012)

Description: In the Peninsula Campaign of spring 1862, Union general George B. McClellan failed in his plan to capture the Confederate capital and bring a quick end to the conflict. But the campaign saw something new in the war--the participation of African Americans in ways that were critical to the Union offensive. Ultimately, that participation influenced Lincoln's decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of that year. Glenn David Brasher's unique narrative history delves into African American involvement in this pivotal military event, demonstrating that blacks contributed essential manpower and provided intelligence that shaped the campaign's military tactics and strategy and that their activities helped to convince many Northerners that emancipation was a military necessity.Drawing on the voices of Northern soldiers, civilians, politicians, and abolitionists as well as Southern soldiers, slaveholders, and the enslaved, Brasher focuses on the slaves themselves, whose actions showed that they understood from the outset that the war was about their freedom. As Brasher convincingly shows, the Peninsula Campaign was more important in affecting the decision for emancipation than the Battle of Antietam.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 2012, of course, will mark the 150th Anniversary of the Maryland Campaign and its Battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Shepherdstown. As the focus of my study for the past six years, I am certainly looking forward to what will no doubt be an exciting time for scholarship pertaining to this critical campaign. Although not listed below but still on the radar for publication in 2012 is Volume Two of the Ezra Carman book, edited by Dr. Thomas Clemens, to be published by Savas-Beatie. Volume Two will cover the action at Antietam and we of the battlefield Park staff are very much looking forward to its release.

I am also very happy to see another South Mountain study coming out.

Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain, September 14, 1862By Brian Matthew Jordan (Savas-Beatie, February 2012)

Description: Many readers of Civil War history have been led to believe that the battle of South Mountain (September 14, 1862) was but a trifling skirmish, a preliminary engagement of little strategic or tactical consequence overshadowed by Antietam's horrific carnage just three days later. In fact, the fight was a decisive Federal victory and important turning point in the campaign, as historian Brian Matthew Jordan convincingly argues in his fresh interpretation Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory, September 14, 1862.Most authors of the Maryland Campaign brush past South Mountain in a few paragraphs or a single chapter. Jordan, however, presents a full-length study based upon extensive archival research, newspaper accounts, regimental histories, official records, postwar reunion materials, public addresses, letters, and diaries. Readers will come away with a full understanding of the strategic results of the fighting in general, and a keen appreciation of the tactical actions at Fox, Turner, and Crampton's gaps in particular. The Northern victory provided a substantial boost for the downtrodden men of the Union army who recognized the battle for what it was: a sharp, hours-long combat that included hand-to-hand combat and resulted in nearly 5,000 casualties. Indeed, South Mountain was the first conclusive victory for the Army of the Potomac-the first time the men of that army maintained possession of the field and with it the responsibility of burying the dead.Jordan goes well beyond the military aspects of the battle to better understand and explain how and why South Mountain faded from public memory. He chronicles how and why former Confederates, true to the Lost Cause, insisted they were outnumbered while proud Union veterans remembered South Mountain as a full-scale engagement-wholly distinct from Antietam-where they outfought and defeated their Rebel opponents.About the Author: Brian Matthew Jordan graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College. The native of northeastern Ohio discovered a passion for history at an early age. He is a frequent speaker at Civil War Round Tables nationwide, delivers popular tours for Gettysburg College's Civil War Institute and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and conducts seminars for various Teaching American History grant recipients. His published work has appeared in multiple journals including Civil War History. Jordan is currently working on a Ph.D. in History at Yale University.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a RevolutionBy Richard Slotkin (Liveright, July 2012)

Description: A masterful account of the Civil War's turning point in the tradition of James McPherson's Crossroads of Freedom.In the summer of 1862, after a year of protracted fighting, Abraham Lincoln decided on a radical change of strategy—one that abandoned hope for a compromise peace and committed the nation to all-out war. The centerpiece of that new strategy was the Emancipation Proclamation: an unprecedented use of federal power that would revolutionize Southern society. In The Long Road to Antietam, Richard Slotkin, a renowned cultural historian, reexamines the challenges that Lincoln encountered during that anguished summer 150 years ago. In an original and incisive study of character, Slotkin re-creates the showdown between Lincoln and General George McClellan, the “Young Napoleon” whose opposition to Lincoln included obsessive fantasies of dictatorship and a military coup. He brings to three-dimensional life their ruinous conflict, demonstrating how their political struggle provided Confederate General Robert E. Lee with his best opportunity to win the war, in the grand offensive that ended in September of 1862 at the bloody Battle of Antietam.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2-20, 1862By Bradley Gottfried (Savas-Beatie, January 2012)

Description: The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2 - 20, 1862 is the eagerly awaited companion volume to Bradley M. Gottfried's bestselling The Maps of Gettysburg (2007) and The Maps of First Bull Run (2009), part of the ongoing Savas Beatie Military Atlas Series.
The Maps of Antietam breaks down the entire operation (and all related actions) into 21 map sets or "action-sections" enriched with 124 full-color original full-page maps. These spectacular cartographic creations bore down to the regimental and battery level and include the march into Maryland, the Harpers Ferry Operation, the Battle of South Mountain, the battle at Antietam, the retreat, and the fighting at Shepherdstown, as well as important marches and events. At least two-and as many as ten-maps accompany each "action-section." Opposite each map is a full facing page of detailed, footnoted text describing the units, personalities, movements, and combat (including quotes from eyewitnesses) depicted on the accompanying map, all of which make the story of Lee's raid into Maryland come alive.
This original presentation masterfully leads readers on a journey through the campaign that many historians believe marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Gottfried begins with the position of the opposing armies after the Second Bull Run Campaign before detailing their joint movements into Maryland. Readers will stand with D. H. Hill on top of South Mountain as General McClellan tries to force his way through the mountain passes; surround, lay siege to, and capture Harpers Ferry (and ride with Col. Benjamin Davis's cavalry on its breakout); fight blow-by-blow outside the small town of Sharpsburg (53 maps) through the bloodiest day in American history; retreat from the battlefield; and revisit the final bloodshed at Shepherdstown.
Perfect for the easy chair or for walking hallowed ground, The Maps of Antietam is a seminal work that, like his earlier Gettysburg and First Bull Run studies, belongs on the bookshelf of every serious and casual student of the Civil War.
About the Author: Dr. Bradley M. Gottfried holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from Miami University. He has worked in higher education for more than three decades as a faculty member and administrator. He is currently President of the College of Southern Maryland.
An avid Civil War historian, Dr. Gottfried is the author of nine books, including: The Battle of Gettysburg: A Guided Tour (1998); Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade (1999); Brigades of Gettysburg (2002); Roads to Gettysburg (2002); and Kearny's Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade (2005). He is currently working with Theodore P. Savas on a Gettysburg Campaign Encyclopedia.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And, of course, I am looking forward to this one from fellow blogger Kevin Levin. . . .

War As Murder: Remembering the Battle of the CraterBy Kevin Levin (The University Press of Kentucky, June 2012)

Description: The Battle of the Crater is known as one of the Civil War's bloodiest struggles -- a Union loss with combined casualties of 5,000, many of whom were members of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) under Union Brigadier General Edward Ferrero. The battle was a violent clash of forces as Confederate soldiers fought for the first time against African American soldiers. After the Union lost the battle, these black soldiers were captured and subject both to extensive abuse and the threat of being returned to slavery in the South. Yet, despite their heroism and sacrifice, these men are often overlooked in public memory of the war.
In Remembering The Battle of the Crater: War is Murder, Kevin M. Levin addresses the shared recollection of a battle that epitomizes the way Americans have chosen to remember, or in many cases forget, the presence of the USCT. The volume analyzes how the racial component of the war's history was portrayed at various points during the 140 years following its conclusion, illuminating the social changes and challenges experienced by the nation as a whole. Remembering The Battle of the Crater gives the members of the USCT a newfound voice in history.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Petersburg Campaign: Volume 1: The Eastern Front Battles, June-August 1864By Edwin Bearss with Bryce Suderow (Savas-Beatie, March 2012)

Description: The wide-ranging and largely misunderstood series of operations around Petersburg, Virginia, were the longest and most extensive of the entire Civil War. The fighting that began in early June 1864 when advance elements from the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and botched a series of attacks against a thinly defended city would not end for nine long months. This important-many would say decisive-fighting is presented by legendary Civil War author Edwin C. Bearss in The Petersburg Campaign: The Eastern Front Battles, June - August 1864, the first in a ground-breaking two-volume compendium.
Although commonly referred to as the "Siege of Petersburg," that city (as well as the Confederate capital at Richmond) was never fully isolated and the combat involved much more than static trench warfare. In fact, much of the wide-ranging fighting involved large-scale Union offensives designed to cut important roads and the five rail lines feeding Petersburg and Richmond. This volume of Bearss' study of these major battles includes:
• The Attack on Petersburg (June 9, 1864)• The Attack on Petersburg (June 15, 1864)• The Battle of the Jerusalem Plank Road (June 21 - 24, 1864)• The Battle of the Crater (July 31, 1864)• The Battle of the Weldon Railroad (August 18 - 21, 1864)• The Battle of Reams' Station (August 24, 1864)
Accompanying these salient chapters are original maps by Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley, together with photos and illustrations. The result is a richer and deeper understanding of the major military episodes comprising the Petersburg Campaign.
About the Authors: Edwin C. Bearss is a world-renowned military historian, author, and tour guide known for his work on the American Civil War and World War II. Ed, a former WWII Marine wounded in the Pacific Theater, served as Chief Historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994 and is the author of dozens of books and articles. He discovered and helped raise the Union warship USS Cairo, which is on display at Vicksburg National Military Park.
Bryce A. Suderow is a Civil War writer and researcher living in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. at Knox College and earned a Masters in American History at Sonoma State University. His Masters' Thesis, Thunder in Arcadia Valley, was published in 1985 (Univ. of Missouri). Bryce has also published many articles in a number of Civil War periodicals and is recognized as one of the finest archival researchers working today.

The Petersburg Campaign: Volume 2: The Western Front Battles, September 1864-April 1865By Edwin Bearss with Bryce Suderow (Savas-Beatie, June 2012)

Description: The wide-ranging and largely misunderstood series of operations around Petersburg, Virginia, were the longest and most extensive of the entire Civil War. The fighting that began in early June 1864 when advance elements from the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and botched a series of attacks against a thinly defended city would not end for nine long months. This important-many would say decisive-fighting is presented by legendary Civil War author Edwin C. Bearss in The Petersburg Campaign: The Western Front Battles, September 1864 - April 1865, Volume 2, the second in a ground-breaking, two-volume compendium.
Although commonly referred to as the "Siege of Petersburg," that city (as well as the Confederate capital at Richmond) was never fully isolated and the combat involved much more than static trench warfare. In fact, much of the wide-ranging fighting involved large-scale Union offensives designed to cut important roads and the five rail lines feeding Petersburg and Richmond. This volume of Bearss' study includes these major battles:
- Peeble's Farm (September 29 - October 1, 1864)- Burgess Mills (October 27, 1864) - Hatcher Run (February 5 - 7, 1865)- Fort Stedman (March 25, 1865)- Five Forks Campaign (March 29 - April 1, 1865)- The Sixth Corps Breaks Lee's Petersburg Lines (April 2, 1865)
Accompanying these salient chapters are original maps by Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley, together with photos and illustrations. The result is a richer and deeper understanding of the major military episodes comprising the Petersburg Campaign.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am certain there will be many more must-read titles published next year. . .those listed above are just a few.

As for me, my Gettysburg title for the History Press will be coming out sometime in the summer (late summer) of 2012. I am currently in the midst of this one, finding it quite the challenge to tell the story of this campaign and battle within just 50,000 words. . . but, gotta keep moving on.


Kevin said...

Hi John,

Thanks for including my forthcoming book. All the best to you in the New Year.

Kevin at Civil War Memory

Anonymous said...

Hello John

This is a great list. I didn't know about the "America's Great Debate" title.

I wanted to ask you if you are familiar with any upcoming campaign histories. I expected with the 150th anniversary upon us that it would trigger at least a few new campaign studies. I do know there will be one published by Savas Beatie on Chickamauga but have not heard of any others.

With your association with Antietam, I wanted to see if you have heard if anyone is working on a Maryland Campaign study?

Happy New Year
Don Hallstrom

Rea Andrew Redd said...

Good list! We share a common appetite.
The Guelzo book looks very appealing. I am looking for my section of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the spring 2013. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom is too immense for an undergraduate course that lasts 15 weeks and that includes Reconstruction. He had a similar text in the 1990s. It was pretty good.

John David Hoptak said...

Hello Don. . .
Forgive the delay in response. I am looking forward to the Petersburg titles as far as campaign studies go, and I also believe Scott Hartwig's examination of the Maryland Campaign (Johns Hopkins Press) will be hitting the shelves this year as well.

Some good things ahead for we Civil War enthusiasts!