New Civil War Books

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War has led to a publishing boom in this section. Our librarians have carefully chosen the best of the new and newly-reissued to share with CRRL readers.

West Virginia and the Civil War: Mountaineers Are Always Free

By Mark A. Snell

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"The only state born as a result of the Civil War, West Virginia was the most divided state in the nation. About forty thousand of its residents served in the combatant forces--about twenty thousand on each side. The Mountain State also saw its fair share of battles, skirmishes, raids and guerrilla warfare, with places like Harpers Ferry, Philippi and Rich Mountain becoming household names in 1861. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, leaders primarily from the northwestern region of the state began the political process that eventually led to the creation of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Renowned Civil War historian Mark A. Snell has written the first thorough history of these West Virginians and their civil war in more than fifty years."

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The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword

By James S. Price

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"In the predawn darkness of September 29, 1864, black Union soldiers attacked a heavily fortified position on the outskirts of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In a few hours of desperate fighting, these African American soldiers struck a blow against Robert E. Lee's vaunted Army of Northern Virginia and proved to detractors that they could fight for freedom and citizenship for themselves and their enslaved brethren. For fourteen of the black soldiers who stormed New Market Heights that day, their bravery would be awarded with the nation's highest honor--the Congressional Medal of Honor. With vivid firsthand accounts and meticulous tactical detail, James S. Price brings the Battle of New Market Heights into brilliant focus, with maps by master cartographer Steven Stanley."

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A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

By Amanda Foreman

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"Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For four years the complex web of relationships between the countries led to defeats and victories both minute and history-making. In A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative."
A New York Times bestseller that is available in standard print format, as an eBook, and as an unabridged audio book.

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The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War

By James Robertson

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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.

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

By Civil War Trust

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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.

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

By John G. Selby

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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.

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A Pocket History of the Civil War

By Martin F. Graham

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This is a small book. It lacks gorgeous illustrations, but it -is- concise, plainly-written and published by one of the most recognized companies for military history for the National Civil War Museum. If a reader wants a compact overview, complete with "Test Your Knowledge" sections for each chapter, the pocket history is the way to go. Includes a glossary.

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Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville: The Dare Mark Campaign

By Daniel E. Sutherland

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Even the most massive battle is only part of a larger campaign. From the winter of 1862 through 1863, the Confederacy experienced major victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, showing up the Union's weaknesses in strategy and preparation. As to the title, a Confederate soldier referred to the Rappahannock River as "the Dare Mark" as it was a strategic point that must be controlled, and the campaign described here reflects that conflict.
This book is part of the Great Campaigns of the Civil War series.

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General Jo Shelby's March

By Anthony Arthur

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Some Confederate officers and soldiers refused to live in a conquered land. General Jo Shelby was one of those. He led his 300 men, the "Iron Brigade," on a twelve-hundred-mile march to Mexico where they supported the Emperor Maximilian in his fight against Juarez's rebels, hoping to eventually establish their own government there. Though doomed, his actions were historically notable--all the more so since in his later years, he returned to the United States, renounced slavery, became U.S. Marshall for western Missouri and became famous as a nineteenth-century progressive.

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The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day

By Ted Alexander

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"The worst hit was the 30th Virginia. This was a unit composed of shopkeepers, clerks, skilled craftsmen and farmers from the Fredericksburg area. They went into the fight with 236 men and lost 172, killed, wounded and captured, 68 percent of the regiment." (p. 84)

In a single day, 23,000 men died, were captured or were wounded at the Battle of Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. The Chief Historian for the Antietam site gives a fascinating look at the men and battlefield movements that went into that very long and very bloody day. He also includes sections on hospital conditions and how the battle was remembered in the decades following.
Part of the History Press' Civil War sesquicentennial series.

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