Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Booknotes: New National Geographic guides

New Arrivals:
National Geographic's The Civil War: A Traveler's Guide edited by Len Riedel (National Geographic Books, 2016).

This new softcover (but it feels rugged) battlefield and site guide is a partnership between NG and the Blue & Gray Education Society. One can wonder why they waited until after the Sesquicentennial before publishing a large mass-market travel guide but there are plenty of people out there (like you) whose interests transcend such things. Crammed with text describing over 600 Civil War related destinations with sidebars, 50 color maps, directions, walking tours, and book recommendations, it's a nice looking trip companion.
"(T)his handy, practical guide offers comprehensive information on the more than 384 sites recognized by the National Park Service as official battlefield locations, including the main Battlefield Sites, from Manassas to Appomattox Court House. In addition, this guide steers travelers to scores of additional little-seen and off-the-beaten path sites near the main battlefields. This guide helps travelers experience the Civil War chronologically, by location, or by campaign, experiencing the battles and skirmishes as the soldiers themselves would have encountered them: Follow Lee's march to Gettysburg or drive the Secession Trail through South Carolina. Walking tours provide visitors with detailed instructions, short histories, and a map so they can get out of the car and explore on foot. A history of individual parks is included, as well as books for further reading about specific figures or battles. A list of all of the Civil War battles in chronological order and a timeline of major events of the war puts the entire war in historical perspective. A complete list of all of the major campaigns as well as short biographies of key leaders and influential figures sheds light on the strategic maneuvers of the war."

Monticello: The Official Guide to Thomas Jefferson's World by Charley Miller and Peter Miller (Nat Geo Books, 2016).
"For the first time, Monticello has an official guidebook that reflects the unique statesman and inventor Thomas Jefferson, his home, and his world. Showcasing the recent restoration of the home and plantation, it features information about the slaves of Mulberry Row, as well as the state-of-the-art visitor and education center. Each of the guide's 144 pages is designed to showcase the topics in its five chapters: Thomas Jefferson, Before Your Visit, The House, The Plantation, and the Neighborhood. Photographs, art and cutaways, and maps accompany featured stories both iconic and little-known from Monticello's curators."
This handsome hardcover guide takes readers through Monticello room by room, paying close attention to architecture, objects, art, furniture and more with color photos and historical text and trivia. Monticello as working plantation is also explored, as are the gardens and neighborhood.

1 comment:

  1. I can guess why you're seeing the new NG guide post-sesquicentennial, as I'm doing the same with my guidebook, The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide - its second edition officially releases next week. (You should be seeing one for review soon.)
    It's pretty simple, actually - the first edition of my book came out not long before the sesquicentennial began. In those four short years, it became fairly out of date. Reinterpreted sites, new museums, more protected acreage, technological improvements... the amount of change has been significant. I needed to rewrite half the entries and added over 150 pages to boot.
    The pace of growth has slowed a bit, but not stopped, which means that thankfully I'll need to write a third edition at some point, too. Good news for all of us.


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