Thursday, June 11, 2009

"The New Civil War Handbook"

In the foreword to The New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages (Savas Beatie, 2009) author Mark Hughes credits William Price's The Civil War Handbook* for inspiring his lifelong interest in the subject. Hughes hopes that his own handbook will provide the same service. Heavily illustrated and non-narrative in nature, he's chosen a pithy and largely visual format that will likely appeal to the tastes and nature of the young audience of today (at least that's the stereotypical view), especially those that have grown up gathering most of their information from the internet.

Hughes divides his book into four sections. The first gathers quotations, quick facts, and other trivia type elements. The second, and largest, section is a captioned photo gallery, its images widely inclusive [e.g. generals, soldiers, battles, women, POWs, hospitals, civilians, etc.]. Part three is composed of tables [e.g. numbers, losses, causes of wounds and deaths], and the final section, miscellany such as a glossary and book, website, and blog lists.

I think Hughes succeeds in what he has set to do, provide an appropriately structured introductory level reference guide for the uninitiated. Like an earlier commenter, Harry at Bull Runnings, I think the book will speak best to young adults with little prior exposure to Civil War studies. If The New Civil War Handbook helps inspire a new generation of Civil War readers and preservationists, the author will have done well.

* - I don't think I've ever cracked open Price's book, so I can't compare the two. My own initial childhood foray into the Civil War was The How And Why Wonder Book of The Civil War by Earl Schenck Miers and Leonard Vosburgh.

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Other CWBA reviews of Savas Beatie titles:
* Chicago's Battery Boys: The Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil War's Western Theater
* One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863
* The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 - July 13, 1863
* Army of the Potomac: McClellan's First Campaign March-May 1862
* The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign
* Capital Navy: The Men, Ships, and Operations of the James River Squadron
* Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg


  1. Thanks a lot for taking the time and trouble to review this title. We think this is one of those "little" books that will stir the passion virus. At least we hope so.

    Stay well.


  2. Thank you for your review of "The New Civil War Handbook." The author, Mark Hughes, will be on Civil War Talk Radio on June 19th at 3:00 pm est.

    This is a great book to spark the flames of a future Civil War enthusiast.

    Tammy Hall
    Savas Beatie LLC

  3. Drew:

    Thank you for taking the time to review The New Civil War Handbook. I was fortunate to work with a great team at Savas Beatie including an excellent editor, Terry A. Johnston, Jr.

    Our local library still has their copy of The How And Why Wonder Book of The Civil War. I remember reading it after I moved here from South Carolina.

    My blog is:

    Mark Hughes - author The New Civil War Handbook


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