Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Booknotes: Let Us Die Like Men

New Arrival:
Let Us Die Like Men: The Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864 by William Lee White (Savas Beatie, 2019).

Lee White's Let Us Die Like Men: The Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864 takes the Emerging Civil War series on another foray into a major western theater campaign. Beginning its narrative in September 1864, the book covers the initial stages of General Hood's meandering march north (i.e. Allatoona Pass, Decatur, and Columbia) before discussing the fighting at Spring Hill and Franklin, both events of enduring controversy. I will be curious to see if White holds any unconventional views on Hood and his ambitious Tennessee campaign.

You do get all the expected elements of an ECW series title, with maps (12 in number and very good) and/or photographs on nearly every page. There's a 14-stop battlefield tour and four-part appendix section, the latter covering Confederate artillery at Franklin, a list of regimental flags lost, a preservation discussion, and a brief personal "memories" of Franklin essay. The volume concludes with orders of battle and a suggested reading list.

Clearly the ECW crew has developed a winning formula that they are comfortable with, one that expertly condenses large (and mostly already popular) military topics and applies fairly lavish production values at a modest price, but I can't help but wonder if they could just as successfully integrate other approaches. I think the volume dimensions and overall format would be perfect for the inverse as well, giving full treatment to small but important battles that are often overlooked (i.e. those that might deserve more than an essay but couldn't otherwise fill a full-sized book). Anyway, that's not a criticism of the way they do things, just food for thought (and probably a guarantee of poorer sales!).

3 comments:

  1. Drew: Interesting points. Regarding a focus on smaller, less-covered battles I wonder whether History Press hasn't already grabbed that niche. One little-known aspect of the ECW series is that several of the books have source notes accessible through the series website. An excellent example is the new Mine Run book.

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    1. Unfortunately, the THP release pace has tailed off big time since the end of the Sesquicentennial. They do have an upcoming book on James Island that I'm looking forward to in April.

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    2. I had that sense regarding THP. It probably still impacts anyone else deciding to go that route, however. If a book dealing with Small Battle X was published in 2012, the market for another is likely pretty small.

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