Sunday, December 27, 2009

Civil War Publishing in 2009: My Year in Review

It's that time of the year again to go back and review the reviews, and make some picks for favorite books read by me over the past twelve months (or so). I'm not going to comment too much, as my thoughts about most can be easily found through the links provided.

Social-Political-Economic History:

Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War by Marc Egnal (Hill and Wang, 2009).

I think one can have disagreements with Egnal over points of emphasis and the strength of his overall argument, and still have a healthy respect for his thoroughly fascinating and important book.

Battle/Tactical History:

The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History by John F. Schmutz (McFarland, 2009).

I am seeing fewer and fewer books of this type published in recent years. Unfortunate.

Campaign History:

Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign by William L. Shea (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2009).

I just finished Shea's book. A review and interview with the author (hopefully) will be posted in the near future.


Army Life: From a Soldier’s Journal, Incidents, Sketches, and Record of Union Soldier's Army Life, in Camp and Field, 1861-1864 edited by Robert G. Schultz (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2009).


In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat by Earl J. Hess (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2009).

I would be greatly remiss if I didn't mention the volume above, the conclusion to Earl Hess's impressive three volume study of field fortifications in the eastern theater [my reviews of volumes one and two]. I look forward to his study of earthworks in the Atlanta Campaign (as well as the Knoxville campaign study).

Essay Collection:

The Seventh Star of the Confederacy: Texas During the Civil War edited by Kenneth W. Howell (Univ. of North Texas Press, 2009).

A much deserving winner of the A.M. Pate Award.

Reference Book(s):

South Carolina Military Organizations During the War Between the States (4 Vols.) by Robert S. Seigler (The History Press, 2008).

* Statewide Units, Militia & Reserves
* The Midlands
* The Lowcountry & Pee Dee
* The Upstate


Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington, New Edition by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II (Scarecrow Press, 2009).


The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley (Savas Beatie, 2009).

Self-Publishing Effort:

The Civil War in the Big Sandy Valley of Kentucky, Second Edition by John David Preston (Gateway Press, 2008).

Preston's self-published [Gateway is a subsidy press] book could qualify as a reprint, but there is so much revision and added material that it is almost an entirely new (and far better) book.

Local/Regional History:

Defending South Carolina's Coast: The Civil War from Georgetown to Little River by Rick Simmons (The History Press, 2009).


  1. Hello Drew

    I agree with your recommendation on Earl Hess's series. I found you comments interesting. It sounds like he is doing the same thing for the Atlanta Campaign. He is also doing the same for Knoxville or is that going to be a campaign study?


  2. Thanks for placing Petruzzi and Stanley's Gettysburg Guide on the list, Drew.

    No biography listing?


  3. Don,
    He mentioned both in his interview with Mike Noirot. The Knoxville book will be a campaign study, and I believe the Atlanta book will be similar to the Petersburg book.

  4. Ted,
    This time around, I didn't really like any biography enough to single one out.

    The Gettysburg title is a great book. In addition to a touring guide, you could almost market it as an atlas in itself and it could go toe to toe with anything out there.

  5. Drew

    I agree. JD and Steve did a great job. Looking forward to their Maryland campaign treatment.


  6. Drew,

    Not a single biography? Not even a biography category?


  7. Yep, I guess I was hard on the biographies this year. I only read a handful (typical for me) and none thrilled me on enough counts to single one out in particular.

  8. Drew,

    Just started Shea's Prairie Grove study & am enjoying it.

    Re: the HEss series, you mention Atlanta & Knoxville. Do you know if he's gonna do it chronologically like the Eastern stuff? Or will he just pick out certain campaigns? The Petersburg book could possibly the best overview out there.

    Happy New Year!

    Mike Peters

  9. Mike,
    From the interview, I did not get an impression that the two projects were part of a series, rather that Knoxville will be a traditional campaign study and Atlanta a field fortifications study. You can now download the entire interview in a single file and check it out. That's what I did.


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