Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable

Civil War Education, Remembrance and Preservation

WHAT ARE THE BEST BOOKS ON THE CIVIL WAR?


Below are some lists of favorite Civil War books from a variety of different sources. Click on the title to open and close each list.

Top 12 Civil War Books Ever Written - Glenn LaFantasie

The Best Civil War Books - Malcom Jones

Top 50 Civil War Books - BlueGray Daily

BlueGrayDaily
1. The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set) by Shelby Foote
2. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) by James McPherson
3. The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War (Modern Library) by Michael Shaara
4. LEE'S LIEUTENANTS: A Study in Command [Scribners complete 3 Volume set, identical reprint of 1944 and 1945 Edition] by Douglas Southall Freeman
5. Stonewall Jackson : The Man, the Soldier, the Legend by James Robertson
6. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command by Edwin B. Coddington
7. Co. Aytch:: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War by Sam R. Watkins
8. A Stillness at Appomattox (Army of the Potomac, Vol. 3) by Bruce Catton
9. The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville (Modern War Studies) by Wiley Sword
10. Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander by Edward Porter Alexander
11. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears
12. Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears
13. American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies by Michael W. Kauffman
14. Gettysburg--The Second Day by Harry Willcox Pfanz
15. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner
16. Gettysburg: A Journey in Time by William A. Frassanito
17. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
18. Little Short of Boat (Dicovering Civil War America) by James A. Morgan
19. The Centennial history of the Civil War 3 Volume Set by Bruce Catton
20. Harvard's Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry by Richard Miller
21. Mosby's Rangers by Jeffry D. Wert
22. The Golden Book of the Civil War by American Heritage
23. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
24. April 1865: The Month That Saved America (P.S.) by Jay Winik
25. This Terrible Sound: THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA (Civil War Trilogy) by Peter Cozzens
26. Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 by Joseph Harsh
27. Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865 by Steven E. Woodworth
28. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy by Bell Irwin Wiley
29. The Civil War Dictionary by Mark Boatner
30. Lee by
Richard Harwell, Douglas Southall Freeman and James M. McPherson
31. Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years by Carl Sanburg
32. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
33. The Civil War CD-Rom: The Official Records of the War of Rebellion (128 vol. on one cd) by Participants
34. Antietam: The Soldiers' Battle by John Michael Priest
35. The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan, and Their Br others by John Waugh
36. Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor by Russell S. Bonds
37. Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West by Shea & Hess
38. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library of America) by Ulysses S. Grant
39. Hardtack And Coffee: Or The Unwritten Story Of Army Life (1887) by John D. Billings
40. The Guns At Gettysburg by Fairfax Downey
41. Gone with the Wind, 75th Anniversary Edition by Margaret Mitchell
42. The Warrior Generals: Combat Leadership in the Civil War by Thomas Buell
43. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner
44. Battles & Leaders by Century Magazine
45. Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas by John J. Hennessy
46. The Secret War for the Union: The Untold Story of Military Intelligence in the Civil War by Edwin C. Fishel
47. Three Years in the Army of the Cumberland: The Letters and Diary of Major James A. Connolly (Civil War Centennial Series) by James Austin Connolly
48. Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign (Civil War America) by Kent Masterson Brown
49. The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara
50. PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg by Wittenberg & Petruzzi

Amazon.com's Top Twelve Civil War Books for Kindle

Top 10 Gettysburg Books by Brett Schulte

My Top 12 Civil War Books by Eric Wittenberg

Best of the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns

Dickson - Movius Study Group
1862 -

1864 -

Five Best: Civil War Novels - David Blight

The Red Badge of Courage
By Stephen Crane (1895)
Still taught to young readers as a tale of initiation to manhood and triumph over fear, Stephen Crane's classic can also be read as challenging the romance of war. Henry Fleming and his comrades grow from innocence to confident adulthood. But their quest is apolitical; they have no discernible cause except to band together amid the trauma of war. Crane was born after the Civil War but was drawn to the emotional rush of warfare—he wrote several other Civil War tales and worked as a war correspondent, covering the Greco-Turkish war in 1897 and the Spanish-American war the following year. Crane regarded battle as irresistible but cruel and purposeless. In "The Red Badge of Courage," his transcendent prose mocked sentimentalism by deploying metaphors from nature—armies are "serpents crawling from the cavern at night"—and Henry stumbles into a "chapel"-like grove in the forest where he encounters the gruesome corpse of a soldier. Crane shows us why moral courage is so much more elusive than physical courage, and why fate is indifferent to virtue.

All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren (1946)
Widely considered a book about the dark arts of politics, this work is at heart a Civil War novel. Jack Burden, the chief of staff for the governor of a Southern state in the 1930s, wears in his tortured soul the South's and a nation's crushing memory and guilt for slavery, the Confederacy's doomed cause, and its aftermath of unrealized racial and class peace. The past becomes Robert Penn Warren's "spider web" that one dares not touch, even inadvertently. Jack, the historian who can never finish his dissertation on a Confederate ancestor named Cass Mastern, amasses research that paralyzes him with its sinister secrets and unbearable truths. What results is an unforgettable encounter with authentic tragedy (like the Civil War itself) rare in American fiction. Cass's sin and the country's original sin crash into one another. The past, once opened to the air, infests the present.

The March: A Novel

By E.L. Doctorow (2005)
In his characteristic mixture of real historical figures and a dazzling array of white and black fictional characters, E.L. Doctorow remakes Gen. William T. Sherman's "march to the sea" into a withering, sorrowful, comic and utterly tragic vision of war and death. Indeed, war and death become main characters, with personalities, intentions, voices, smells and ultimately power. The excursions into Sherman's tormented warrior's mind are brilliant pieces of psychology, convincing portraits of the attraction and repulsion that war inspires. Doctorow's characters—including the former slaves Pearl and Coalhouse Walker, a white Southern lady named Emily, and an intriguing Union doctor, Wrede Sartorius—allow the author to imagine the Civil War as a blood-stained clash out of which an ugly, ill-formed modernity emerged.
 
Cease Firing
By Mary Johnston (1912)
Born into a well-to-do Virginia family in 1870, daughter of a Confederate officer whose cousin was the famous Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Mary Johnston grew up imbued with the Lost Cause. She was ultimately driven to escape its clutches, though, by writing about the human ravages of war itself. Johnston was a complex woman and prolific writer who embraced suffrage and socialism. In "Cease Firing," the second of her two war novels, Johnston became one of the first women to write historically accurate, realistic and detailed battle scenes. At Gettysburg, she said: "The dead horses lay upon this field one and two and three days in the furnace heat. They were fearful to see and there came from them a fetid odor. But the scream of the wounded horses was worse than the sight of the dead. There were many wounded horses. They lay in the wood and field, in country lane and orchard." War was unromantic and unsentimental, in her vivid telling, but also a manly chess game played on an epic scale. From the siege of Vicksburg through to the final retreat to Appomattox, youthful innocence crumbles over and over under the weight of warfare's weapons, trenches, hospitals and prisons. Ultimately, the book is a plea for reconciliation based on respect for the sacrifice of common soldiers.

Beloved (Everyman's Library)

By Toni Morrison (1987)
With slaveryand its legacy the focus of Toni Morrison's "Beloved," the book is a Civil War novel of the first order even though it is set in 1873. The tale focuses on a former slave named Sethe, who escaped to Ohio before the war from a Kentucky farm called Sweet Home. When it seemed that she was about to be recaptured, Sethe committed a horrifying act of infanticide to save her baby from enslavement. The baby haunts this masterly work, a "ghost story" that probes to the darkest heart of dehumanization, as well as the human will to survive the worst of human oppression. Morrison's great theme—the nature of memory—leaves us with a sense that historical and personal memory are matters of overwhelming burden but also of human choice. The book ultimately is a challenge to the nation itself to consider its burden and its choices as the maker and destroyer of slavery.