Wednesday, April 25, 2007

O.R. Atlas reprints

David Woodbury's most recent post deals with the online digitization of the wonderful Official Military Atlas of the Civil War (I use the book a great deal). There was also a nice entry a while back with links to reviews of various atlases published within the past few years. No doubt many of you have seen the new Barnes & Noble edition (available both online and in their brick and mortar establishments). It is difficult to complain about it because I was so pleasantly surprised that they reprinted it...and at a price that is practically giving it away...but I do believe it is a step down in quality from previous editions (at least the one I am familiar with).

My own copy is the out-of-print 1983 Gramercy Books edition, the red one (at right). With its darker, crisper lines and more vibrant colors, I much prefer this edition to the B&N volume. The B&N map plate reproductions appear significantly lighter and pixelated to my eyes. Overall, though, I would never want to discourage anyone from buying it. If you are on a budget, you can't beat B&N's price and it does have one very welcome change--the plates are no longer ID'd with Roman numerals. When flipping back and forth from the Gramercy index, the translation in your head can get tedious with the higher plate numbers!

Whichever edition you get, there is one great use common to all. It's sturdiness and great size & weight make it the perfect tool to reflatten Civil War magazines or paperback books bent or folded by the USPS in transit. Immediately upon receipt, all of my Blue & Gray's spend a week under its lovingly gentle crushing force and emerge like they're hot off the press.


  1. Drew, I spotted this in a catalog and bought a copy with the same cover on the right (the red one) for $60.00 in 1978 (published by Arno/Crown). That was a ton of money then.

    I remember I was just out of high school, I had to scrape the money together, and I still own and use it, but it is falling apart. (David W. spilled some coffee on Plate XXX, although the stain sort of looks like Grant's profile. LOL) The printing was excellent.

    It was the most expensive book I had ever purchased. You never forget your first one.

  2. From what I can tell, that 1978 edition is the first reprint since the initial 1891-1895 runs. Between that one and 1983, Amazon notes a 1979 [Ayer Co.? could be an error, probably same as 1978. 1983 is published by Gramercy with Arno/Crown as copyright holders] edition and a 1982 gold accented leather bound one from Easton Press.

    I actually bought mine in 1998 from the clearance table at a Waldenbooks in San Jose for $20. I should have picked up both!


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