History Books

John Randolph of Roanoke

By David Johnson

Go to catalog
"One of the most eccentric and accomplished politicians in all of American history, John Randolph (1773--1833) led a life marked by controversy. The long-serving Virginia congressman and architect of Southern conservatism grabbed headlines with his prescient comments, public brawls, and clashes with every president from John Adams to Andrew Jackson. The first biography of Randolph in nearly a century, John Randolph of Roanoke provides a full account of the powerful Virginia planter's hard-charging life and his impact on the formation of conservative politics."
Reserve this title

Colonial Churches of Virginia

By Don W. and Sue Massey

Go to catalog

A beautiful and beautifully-written work that does a good job of giving the history and architectural highlights of more than 50 historic churches in the Old Dominion. Most are Anglican or Episcopal, but representative early churches can also be found for Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Mennonite, and Lutheran congregations. Current service times are noted for each church. Locally, readers can visit Yeocomico Church in Westmoreland County, Aquia Church in Stafford County, as well as St. Paul's Church and Lamb's Creek Church in King George County.

Reserve this title

Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South

By Jennifer R. Green

Go to catalog

"This book argues that military education was an important institution in the development of the southern middle class as a regional group and as part of the national middle class in the late antebellum years. It explores class formation, professionalization, and social mobility in the 1840s and 1850s, using this data to define the middle class on a national level, while also identifying regionally specific characteristics of the emerging southern middle class."

Reserve this title

The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave Off Defeat

By Gary W. Gallagher

Go to catalog

"If one is to believe contemporary historians, the South never had a chance. Many allege that the Confederacy lost the Civil War because of internal division or civilian disaffection; others point to flawed military strategy or ambivalence over slavery. But, argues distinguished historian Gary Gallagher, we should not ask why the Confederacy collapsed so soon but rather how it lasted so long. In The Confederate War he reexamines the Confederate experience through the actions and words of the people who lived it to show how the home front responded to the war, endured great hardships, and assembled armies that fought with tremendous spirit and determination.

"Gallagher's portrait highlights a powerful sense of Confederate patriotism and unity in the face of a determined adversary. Drawing on letters, diaries, and newspapers of the day, he shows that Southerners held not only an unflagging belief in their way of life, which sustained them to the bitter end, but also a widespread expectation of victory and a strong popular will closely attuned to military events.

"In fact, the army's 'offensive-defensive' strategy came remarkably close to triumph, claims Gallagher--in contrast to the many historians who believe that a more purely defensive strategy or a guerrilla resistance could have won the war for the South. To understand why the South lost, Gallagher says we need look no further than the war itself: after a long struggle that brought enormous loss of life and property, Southerners finally realized that they had been beaten on the battlefield."

Reserve this title

Mosby's Keydet Rangers

By Eric W. Buckland

Go to catalog

"Mosby's Keydet Rangers includes a large amount of previously unpublished material that gives the reader new insights into the young men who matriculated at VMI and rode with Colonel John Singleton Mosby. It is a comprehensive collection of short biographical sketches, personal letters, accounts of raids and incidents, anecdotes, newspaper articles, passages from books, memorials, and obituaries that brings the young Rangers to life and sheds new light on their operations during the war."

Reserve this title

Virginia at War: 1865

By William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, Jr., editors

Go to catalog
"By January 1865, most of Virginia's schools were closed, many newspapers had ceased publication, businesses suffered, and food was scarce. Having endured major defeats on their home soil and the loss of much of the state's territory to the Union army, Virginia's Confederate soldiers began to desert at higher rates than at any other time in the war, returning home to provide their families with whatever assistance they could muster. It was a dark year for Virginia. Virginia at War, 1865 closely examines the end of the Civil War in the Old Dominion, delivering a striking depiction of a state ravaged by violence and destruction.

"In the final volume of the Virginia at War series, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. have once again assembled an impressive collection of essays covering topics that include land operations, women and families, wartime economy, music and entertainment, the demobilization of Lee's army, and the war's aftermath. The volume ends with the final installment of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire's popular and important Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War."

Reserve this title

Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War

By H. Donald Winkler

Go to catalog

Rebel queen of Washington spies : Rose Greenhow -- Vanished without a trace : Sarah Slater -- "Singing as sweetly as ever" : Olivia Floyd -- Grant's most valuable Richmond spy : Elizabeth Van Lew -- The spy who saved ships : Elizabeth Baker -- Double trouble sister act : Ginnie and Lottie Moon -- The perils of Pauline : Pauline Cushman -- The heroine of Winchester : Rebecca Wright -- A glorious consummation : Harriet Tubman -- A teenage terrorist : Nancy Hart -- "No sacrifice too great" : Antonia Ford and Laura Ratcliffe -- Mosby's Merry Christmas : Roberta Pollock -- A secesh Cleopatra : Belle Boyd -- The clever masquerader : Emma Edmonds -- Trapped in a sting operation : Clara Judd -- Sarah's deadly revenge : Sarah Lane Thompson -- Hired to find herself : Loreta Velazquez -- Beyond the call of duty : more heroines -- Did she die for their sins? : Mary Surratt.

Reserve this title

The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War

By James Robertson

Go to catalog

A very browsable book with the sort of gorgeous photographs one expects from its publisher, National Geographic. "The Human Side" is encapsulated in a unique format--pithily and adroitly told tales on one page accompanied by a full page visual rendering of the subject. Some topics will be quite familiar to locals, such as the Angel of Marye's Heights but many will be new to readers. There is also a detailed, double-page photo spread at the beginning of the first chapter showing Grant and his men enjoying themselves in the pews of Massaponax Church--which they have dragged into the yard for a makeshift headquarters. The stories from both perspectives--North and South--are lively, yet it is not surprising that most of the battlefield images come from from Union artists and photographers.

Reserve this title

The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List for the 150th Anniversary

By Civil War Trust

Go to catalog

The director of history and education for the Civil War Trust designed this book for people who are curious about the Civil War and want to have and share experiences that encompass that historical period. They range from those simple things that are not location-specific (Don a uniform or period dress, Go to a Civil War Round Table meeting) to actually going to those places, well-known and otherwise, where history was made. Good for those who enjoy check-lists.

Reserve this title

Virginians at War: The Civil War Experiences of Seven Young Confederates

By John G. Selby

Go to catalog

A different tack to Civil War studies--here John Shelby sketches particular instances of the conflict and marries those with first-hand accounts from seven young Confederates who were involved. Three women's and four men's lives are interwoven the events surrounding them, and they are followed even well into the war's aftermath.

Reserve this title