Monday, June 15, 2015

Booknotes II (June '15)

New Arrivals:

1. Strike Them a Blow: Battle along the North Anna River, May 21 - 25, 1864 by Chris Mackowski (Savas Beatie, 2015).

The North Anna phase of the Overland Campaign is one of the less well covered subjects tackled by the Emerging Civil War series. It has the usual array of photographs (period and modern), artwork, and excellent maps to go along with the narrative. One of the more interesting features of the series as a whole are the eclectic short subject treatments (often written by different authors from the ECW stable) collected in the appendices. Those in this volume cover the Battle of Wilson's Wharf, Mitford Station, the Meade-Grant relationship, a portrait of Confederate engineer General Martin L. Smith, some thoughts on preservation, and a discussion of exhibit art related to the campaign.

2. Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West edited by Virginia Scharff (Univ of Calif Pr, 2015).

An "(illustrated) companion volume to an Autry National Center exhibition on the Civil War and the West, Empire and Liberty brings leading historians together to examine artifacts, objects, and artworks that illuminate this period of national expansion, conflict, and renewal." The book also shares thematic elements with Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States, which was released soon after and from the same publisher. The essays from Scharff and others "show how the West shaped the conflict over slavery and how slavery shaped the West, in the process defining American ideals about freedom and influencing battles over race, property, and citizenship."

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