Saturday, April 5, 2008

D'Arcy and Mammina: Savannah and SC Low Country Tour Guides

Civil War Tours of the Low Country: Beaufort, Hilton Head, & Charleston, South Carolina by David D'arcy & Ben Mammina (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.*, 2008).
Civil War Walking Tour of Savannah by David D'Arcy & Ben Mammina (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2006).

In my mind, the better Civil War guidebooks provide an interesting browsing experience at home in addition to on-site utility. For the most part, both of these guides, which combine walking and driving tours, pass this personalized test.

Civil War Walking Tour of Savannah includes two downtown walking tours that are thematically differentiated between early and late war related public buildings and private dwellings. These excursions are complemented by the two driving tours that are generally military in focus, one covering outlying batteries, forts, etc. located along the city's eastern approaches and the other the direct defenses of Savannah as encountered by Sherman's army. Civil War Tours of the Low Country provides eight tours (evenly divided between walking and driving): driving tours of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the islands of Hilton Head, St. Helena, and Daufuskie; with further walking tours of Bluffton and Beaufort(3).

Both volumes are sturdily constructed of quality materials, and are very heavily illustrated; archival photographs, maps, and drawings are included, along with the modern color photography of co-author Ben Mammina. While the walking tours have attached map guides, they are curiously absent for the driving tours. The text, with attached notes and bibliography, is brief; overall, it's probably safe to say the photography [which is quite good, especially for the antebellum residences] is at the core of these books.

Informal in style and format, Schiffer Publishing's Savannah and South Carolina Low Country touring books should appeal to a broad range of visitors. Casual tourists, architectural enthusiasts (for the walking tours, especially), and battlefield trampers should find both publications useful. If I ever get the opportunity to visit these southern jewels, I will certainly bring these books along.

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