The Bookshelf

The digital home of book reviews and author interviews—and your source of the most up-to-date information on all things Civil War literature

Published 12/21/2011

PETERSEN: Quantrill at Lawrence (2011)

By: A. James Fuller Category: Book Reviews

Quantrill at Lawrence: The Untold Story is a well-written and provocative book... many will disagree with his conclusion that the Lawrence attack should be seen as a legitimate and successful cavalry raid...but readers will appreciate his storytelling and historians should give the contentions he makes in telling his untold story further consideration...

Published 12/14/2011

WACHTELL: War No More (2010)

By: Kenneth W. Noe Category: Book Reviews

Whitman's reluctance to reveal to his readers the totality of the "seething hell" of "the real war" he saw in the hospitals is at the heart of Cynthia Wachtell's War No More. Challenging modern authors such as Paul Fussell who view World War I as the watershed moment in the emergence of an antiwar tradition in American letters, Wachtell goes back to Whitman's "Secession war" to find its uncertain...

Published 12/7/2011

THOMPSON (ed.): Tejanos in Gray

By: William L. Shea Category: Book Reviews

Historians consistently underestimate the ethnic diversity of the Confederacy. Regimental muster rolls from Texas, Louisiana, and other western states abound in German, Irish, French, and Spanish surnames. Until recently, these individuals and the groups they represent have remained largely under the radar...

Published 11/30/2011

MCGINTY: The Body of John Merryman (2011)

By: Michael S. Green Category: Book Reviews

But the Supreme Court played a more significant role in the Civil War than many historians have acknowledged; a state of affairs that Brian McGinty has been trying to rectify. He has followed his study of Lincoln and the Court with this superb book that assesses the many angles of Ex Parte Merryman, perhaps the most important case that reached any member of that tribunal during the war...

Published 11/30/2011

URAL (ed.): Civil War Citizens (2010)

By: James J. Broomall Category: Book Reviews

Civil War Citizens: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity in America’s Bloodiest Conflict is the first effort to examine in one book the wartime experiences of Jewish, Irish, African, Native, and German Americans...

Published 11/23/2011

HARROLD: Border War (2010)

By: Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz Category: Book Reviews

In this well-researched and convincing work, distinguished historian Stanley Harrold departs from a traditional North-versus-South tale of sectional breakdown in the decades leading to the Civil War. Instead, he presents a narrative focused on violence and ideological clash in the borderlands...

Published 11/16/2011

MORSMAN: The Big House After Slavery (2010)

By: Felicity Turner Category: Book Reviews

Amy Feely Morsman’s The Big House After Slavery examines changing gender relations amongst married elites in postemancipation Virginia. Drawing from family papers, diaries, newspapers, and periodicals, Morsman argues that the dire economic straits of former slaveholding elites during Reconstruction prompted an important transition in the gender dynamics of planter households...

Published 11/9/2011

COFFMAN: Going Back the Way They Came (2011) & MARTIN: I Will Give Them One More Shot (2011)

By: James I. Robertson, Jr. Category: The Bookshelf

It was in the 1950s when historian Bruce Catton first called attention to the value of Civil War regimental studies. These personal collections of experiences and quotations by the men in the ranks became a fascinating base for Catton’s award-winning, three-volume chronicle of the Union’s Army of the Potomac. That research breakthrough led to a veritable renaissance in the publication of unit...

Published 11/2/2011

MARTIN: General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A. (2011)

By: Jeffry D Wert Category: Book Reviews

In this lengthy and well-researched new biography of Bragg, Samuel Martin attempts to rectify the Confederate general’s historical record and reputation. It is a commendable effort by the veteran author that will assuredly stir further debate and controversy...

Published 10/26/2011

THOMAS: The Iron Way (2011)

By: Elizabeth Varon Category: Book Reviews

William G. Thomas’s The Iron Way is a tour-de-force, and offers a series of bracing insights about the origins, shape and outcome of the Civil War. Thomas argues that the railroads were sites and symbols of contested modernity in antebellum America. They did not simply symbolize northern industrial might and progress, but also the South’s determination to have modernity on its own terms: to...