Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Booknotes III (October '09)

New additions this month:

1. American Civil War Railroad Tactics by Robert Hodges & Peter Dennis (illus.) (Osprey Publishing, 2009)


2. American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics by Sean McLachlan & Gerry Embleton (illus.) (Osprey Publishing, 2009).

Part of the Elite Series, the above pair of works are, as far as I know, the first Civil War books from Osprey that specifically look at tactics. The former seems to focus on raiding and defensive countermeasures rather than introducing the reader to the strategic or operational use of railroads during the war. The latter takes an across the board look at its subject, perhaps defining guerrilla warfare a bit too broadly given its section on Brice's Crossroads. Some fine looking artwork, too.

3. U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth by Joan Waugh (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2009).

This one just arrived (and should be in retail outlets very soon), but I finished the ARC a while back so I can comment on it. It's my opinion that Waugh's writing and analysis in this work is at its weakest when discussing Grant's military career, but I really enjoyed the latter part of the book, a rather moving chronicle of Grant's final years and what he meant to the citizens of this country in the latter part of the 19th Century.


  1. I tried but could not finish the Waugh biography. It simply did not hold my interest.

    Grant scholarship remains woefully thin. Despite his wide-ranging battlefield experience, stunning success in both theaters, ability to organize logistically and execute major campaigns in vastly different terrain elements--the list is long and varied--Grant still does not have a biography worthy of his accomplishments.

    And that oversight, in my opinion, is begging to be rectified.

    I wish we had one to publish.

    Savas Beatie LLC

  2. I enjoy reading books on Grant. I really wish that Brooks Simpson would do his 2nd volume on Grant that would cover Grant from 1865-1885. It has been almost ten years since his first volume.

    I think historians when writing about Grant kind of stand in awe of the work that Lloyd Lewis and Bruce Catton did in their classic books from the 1950s and 1960s. I have a feeling if Lewis had lived that he would have wrote almost a definitive 3 volume set on Grant. Lewis was off to such a excellent start with 'Captain Sam Grant' and he would have brought that attention to detail to the Civil War years and Grant's post Civil War years that could have been Pulitzer prize worthy material possibly.

    I enjoy reading and talking about Grant biographies and other related books on him. I have always found him a deeply fascinating figure. Hopefully someday someone will tackle writing THE biography on him.

  3. I agree. Brooks Simpson does great work ahd his book is by far the best in my opinion. But I think like RE Lee, Grant easily merits multi-volume treatment just for the war years.



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