Monday, July 1, 2013

Booknotes (July '13)

New Arrivals:

It was a S-B day at the mailbox.

1. The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 - September 19, 1864 by Scott C. Patchan (Savas Beatie, 2013).

This Third Winchester tome is also the author's third Shenandoah Civil War study. All of Patchan's books have been well received so I have little doubt this will soon be regarded as one of the best 1864 Valley Campaign battle studies to date.

2. General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War by Frank P. Varney (Savas Beatie, 2013).

3. John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General by Stephen M. Hood (Savas Beatie, 2013).

I've read quite a bit of (2) and (3) already, both polemical rehab jobs for two Civil War generals with plenty of critics, then and now. Honestly, it's too damn hot and humid in my office even with the AC on for initial thoughts, but suffice it to say that I found both defense efforts successful enough in places to make their reading worthwhile.


  1. AnonymousJuly 01, 2013


    I hope you like those days when you get bombarded by our company. It was like that for us last week when the UPS man rolled in a bunch of cases and we opened all three new titles (plus the "One Continuous Fight" reprint) at once.

    Hope you enjoy them. We are very proud of these three titles in particular. Lots of newly plowed ground. (Although at the cost of a few authors who likely will never publish with us now. Alas.)


    1. I do, but I have a bone to pick with the shipping department. All 3 were placed in the same large envelope that allowed them to bang around with each other and get damaged to varying degrees in addition to the envelop itself being torn to shreds and leaking that recycled pulp all over the place.

    2. AnonymousJuly 02, 2013

      Thanks for letting me know, Drew. I passed it along to Yvette, and she said they came from the distributor's warehouse. We are raising hell now. Would you like three more copies? Happy to send them. Ted

    3. Ted,
      Yeah, I never complained until now, but the packaging has been pretty bad for quite a while now, with your books almost always arriving damaged. Years ago, Casemate would use these nice cardboard bookfolds but now they just send them out in paper envelopes padded with recycled newspaper. It just doesn't provide any protection to hardcovers. No need to send out replacements for these 3 (thanks for the offer), but it would be nice if they had some kind of alternative for the future.

    4. AnonymousJuly 02, 2013

      Thanks Drew. This is complete BS that our books are sent out damaged. We are already raising hell on this end. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  2. Chris EvansJuly 01, 2013

    I guess before long all Generals of the Civil War will be saved.

    I'm hoping for a Sibley book that saves his Civil War career.


    1. He'll always have the tent and stove.

  3. John FoskettJuly 02, 2013


    I look forward to your review of the Hood book. i note that one estimable blogger has given it fairly strong praise, although his reference to it as "impartial" seems to be a bit of a reach given the relationship of the author and the subject. Some Hood Legends already have been demolished by others (notably the Stoned at Franklin theory). As for Chris's point, i think that bit of rehab would have to authored by a distiller.

    1. I largely agree with the positives and negatives mentioned by Dimitri in his blog piece. The author does make a clean breast of it early on that his book is designed specifically to counterbalance the anti-Hood literature, not objectively reevaluate the kaleidoscope of published views on the general. I am more bothered than DR was with the author's emotional tone, as it counterproductively fuels the fire of those that might want to dismiss the entire thing as yet another misguided ancestor worship project.

      As for the demolishing of already demolished myths, author Hood does give very ample credit to those writers and historians that came before him.

    2. John FoskettJuly 02, 2013

      I will be interested in learning how/whether he deals with the July 20-22, 1864 fights, Jonesboro, and Spring Hill/Franklin. It seems there's a good number of objective facts to damage JB's reputation without having to resort to some of the hyperbole/labeling historians have indulged in. Crank up the AC.....

    3. Chris EvansJuly 02, 2013

      I would highly recommend the essay by Stephen Davis 'A Reappraisal of the Generalship of General John Bell Hood in the Battles for Atlanta' from the Savas book on the Atlanta Campaign that came out in 1994.

      It is a hard to get book but it contains some excellent essays. I think Davis has written one of the most concise defenses of Hood, whether you agree with him or not. It is quite thought provoking.

      Also, in a virtually forgotten book 'Lee, Grant and Sherman: A Study in Leadership in the 1864-65 Campaign' that was originally published in 1938 and reprinted by Kansas in 2000 Alfred H. Burne takes a mostly sympathetic tack on Hood in the Battles around Atlanta. I couldn't believe how ahead of his time Burne was in his thoughts on the Generals and their campaigns of the last year. Albert Castel provides helpful notes in the reprint. I highly recommend it.


  4. AnonymousJuly 04, 2013

    @Chris: I had not heard of that book, but will order it. Thank you. Our Atlanta collection of essays was a real labor of love--and our first published book. @JohnF: He deals with those issues head-on with a lot of new information and insights. You will enjoy the book. And as George Zimmer might say, "I guarantee it." Happy Fourth, all.

    Ted Savas


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