Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I avoid galleys as a matter of policy, but the one I received a couple months ago for the May Savas Beatie release Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864 was about as clean as they come (it appeared to be basically the final version minus an index). Charles Knight's book is truly dazzling, one of the best battle studies I have ever read. It is one of those rare books that impresses on all levels (research, writing, maps, supplemental material, and overall presentation), leaving absolutely no cause for complaint. Authors that produce this kind of work should be encouraged, and I hope Knight has writing interests beyond New Market. I'll post my review sometime around its May release date.

A June title from the same publisher will be Antietam guru Tom Clemens's The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 1: South Mountain. Unlike the New Market book, much editing work remains so I am reluctant to offer any kind of evaluation beyond its superiority to the Carman project published two years ago. Both SB books employ footnotes, which I am certain will especially please the hardcore Carman students out there.
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I've learned that the second book from Donald Frazier's "Louisiana Quadrille" (State House Press) will not make it out this year. Instead, expect it sometime in 2011.
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John Fox has a new book release from Angle Valley Press, Confederate Alamo: Bloodbath at Petersburg's Fort Gregg on April 2, 1865. I just got it in and will be reviewing it in the near future. Considering the subject matter, I am sure Brett will be interested in it as well.
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On the 'books from bloggers' front, Eric Wittenberg's The Battle of Brandy Station: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle will be out in general release any time now. You will also be able to catch his engagement with Woodbury Historical Tours the weekend after Labor Day. Victoria Bynum's The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies is another recent release. Eric Lindblade's Battle of Newport Barracks study was originally scheduled for a March release. Hopefully, we'll see it soon. As far as I know, Stuart Salling's Louisianians in the Western Confederacy: The Adams-Gibson Brigade in the Civil War is set for May. Another book from that month will be Michael Hardy's The Fifty-Eighth North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels in the Army of Tennessee.

13 comments:

  1. This isn't regarding the books in your post, but are you familiar with Steven Newton's 1993 book on the battle of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks? It seems to be the only modern study of the battle other than a chapter in Sears's work on the Peninsula Campaign. I've been toying with the idea of writing a history of the battle, but if people think Newton's book is sufficient then I may not attempt it.
    Will Hickox

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  2. Hi Will,
    I pored through it a couple times back when I needed to know something about the battle. I found it a serviceable summary (there's still nothing better), but also incomplete and confusing in places [alas, the passage of time has left my particular concerns beyond recall]. In my opinion, we could easily stand a new book length study. I know I would relish reading it. Go for it!

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  3. Thanks, Drew. Oddly enough I became interested in the battle after discovering that it's been obliterated by urban sprawl and that practically no traces of the battlefield remain. I suspect this is part of the reason for its obscurity. I think it's an interesting engagement--and, of course, terribly bloody, which is primarily how the participants remembered it.

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  4. Will,
    I think it would make for a very interesting battle study, too. I think you're right about the physical obliteration keeping it obscure, that and it being overshadowed by the events occurring soon after. Even so, it is surprising that the books by Gen. Smith and Newton are the only two out there.

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  5. Thanks for the plug – however, since it is now April 7, and I’ve not seen proofs yet, I doubt that the book on the Fifty-eighth North Carolina will be released in May. I asked my publisher about this and they are not sure where Amazon got that date.

    Concerning Seven Pines, make sure you talk to Robert E. L. Krick. I think he is working on something about this battle.

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  6. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for the update. Solid release dates very far in advance for McFarland books can be hard to come by.

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  7. Drew,

    You are correct in assuming I'm interested in the Fort Gregg book. I pusrchased a copy from Angle Valley Press and I plan to review it soon. I had hoped to review it in time for an April 2 post, but real life, as it always does, intervened.

    Will,

    I would be the first in line for a Seven Pines book, whether you or R.E.L. Krick writes it.

    Brett

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  8. Thanks to Michael and Brett.
    Will Hickox

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  9. Chris EvansApril 08, 2010

    Really looking forward to the New Market and Fort Gregg books.

    I'm glad to see New Market getting more attention as William C. Davis's excellent little book has pretty much been the standard over the last 30 plus years. I find the 1864 Valley campaign from New Market to Cedar Creek utterly fascinating.

    Chris

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  10. Chris,
    Davis wrote the foreword to Knight's book and gives it high praise, even to the extent of awarding it placement among the best dozen CW battle histories of all time.

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  11. After corresponding with Bob Krick it turns out he isn't planning to do a book on Seven Pines. I'm still an undergrad but it leaves the field open to me someday.
    Will Hickox

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  12. Hello all

    Many thanks for this discussion, as it pertains to the pair of our titles coming out this spring (New Market and Maryland Campaign).

    If you liked our earlier Champion Hill, by Tim Smith, you will enjoy "Valley Thunder: New Market." It has all the hallmarks of a great tactical battle study, but with the larger perspective included (campaigns, civilians, etc.) eight appendices, and traditional footnotes (jammed with great related info). We are excited to bring it to you.

    Tom Clemen's edit/annotation of the Carman manuscript is very similar in terms of footnotes, included 20 or so original full page maps, photos, etc. It is a real contribution to the 1862 Maryland Campaign literature.

    Don't hesitate to email us if you have any questions, or jump to our website at www.savasbeatie.com

    Thanks for all this Drew.

    tps

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  13. I'm showing up a bit late to this party I suppose, but better late than never...

    Many thanks for the kind words about my New Market book. Receiving praise such as yours and Jack Davis' is rather humbling...

    Charlie Knight

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