Friday, April 8, 2011

Read Alike: American Civil War Historical Fiction

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Hostilities in the War Between the States began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. While slavery was not the only cause of the War Between the States it was certainly the rallying point for the Union. In September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation which made ending slavery in the South the goal of the war. Confederate resistance ended after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. This remains the deadliest wear in American history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 620,000 soldiers (more died due to disease then in battle) and an undetermined number of civilian casualties.

From the battlefield at Gettysburg to the prison in Andersonville, each of these novels illuminates an aspect of the War Between the States. The suffering and courage of those who fought and those who stayed behind resonate within these pages and linger beyond the story’s end.

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus

Lucille Marsden, 99, recalls her husband (whom she married when she was 15 and he was over 45) and his experiences in the Civil War and afterward during Reconstruction.

Starbuck Chronicles Series by Bernard Cornwell (Rebel, Copperhead, Battle Flag, The Bloody Ground)

(First book in series) Nate Starbuck flees the North after helping a woman steal money she claimed as her own where he begins to fight for the Confederacy.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

After Inman escapes from a war hospital in 1864 and starts walking to Cold Mountain, Ada struggles to save her mountain farm with the help of Ruby, an illiterate but efficient farmer.

Fire on the Waters by David Poyer

With the outbreak of the Civil War, New Yorker Eli Eaker enlists in the Union Navy against his father's wishes and joins the crew of Captain Parker Bucyrus Trezevant, who is sailing south to help protect Fort Sumter.

Jacob's Ladder by Donald McCaig

When a Works Project Administration writer interviews an old woman in 1934, he learns the secrets of a prominent Virginia family before and during the Civil War.

Black Flower by Howard Bahr

Bushrod Carter stoically awaits each Civil War battle until the Battle of Franklin, during which the Union forces defeat Carter and the Army of Tennessee.

The Year of Jubilo by Howard Bahr

A Confederate soldier returns to his Mississippi hometown to find a megalomaniacal man attempting to impose his own brand of justice on the small post-Civil War community.

White Doves at Morning by James Lee Burke

Despite their misgivings about "the Cause," Willie Burke and his best friends, three young men from New Iberia, Louisiana, enlist in the Confederate Army and head off to war, in a novel drawn from the author's own family history.

North and South Trilogy by John Jakes (North & South, Love & War, Heaven & Hell)

(First book in series) The rice-growing Mains family from South Carolina meets the iron-producing Hazards from Pennsylvania at West Point in 1842.

The television mini-series of North and South is also available.

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor

A senile general administering Andersonville Prison in Georgia during the Civil War allows many Union soldiers to suffer from exposure, disease, and starvation.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Scarlett O'Hara faces and survives the Civil War and Reconstruction and marries Rhett Butler for his money because her true love has married someone else.

Gone with the Wind is also available on dvd and blu-ray.

Grant: a novel by Max Byrd

A fictional portrait of Ulysses S. Grant captures a unique, flawed man who led the North to victory in the Civil War, was elected president, failed as both a farmer and businessman, and fought a final battle against cancer.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet tell the Southern view of the battle at Gettysburg while Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and General John Buford present the Northern view.

Abel Jones Mysteries by Owen Parry (Faded Coat of Blue, Shadows of Glory, Call Each River Jordan, Honor’s Kingdom, The Bold Sons of Erin, Rebels of Babylon)

(First book in series) A British immigrant to the United States is hired to serve as a confidential agent to Union General George McClellan and quickly finds himself investigating the death of a Union officer while the Civil War rages all around him.

Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb

Disguising herself as a boy to join the Union army alongside her husband, Malinda Blalock raids the farms of Confederate sympathizers and promotes the efforts of governor Zebulon Vance, who would protect Appalachian interests.

Shiloh: a novel by Shelby Foote

A re-creation of the day's events at the Battle of Shiloh, from the perspectives of five officers and men from a single squad.

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Henry Fleming, a young Union soldier, struggles with his conflicting emotions about violence, death, and the nature of bravery in this ironic, skeptical account of the Civil War.

When this Cruel War is Over by Thomas Fleming

Major Paul Stapleton commands a group of cavalrymen who hunt down Union deserters and seek to stop a group of revolutionary conspirators plotting to create a Northwest confederacy.

Homeland by Barbara Hambly

Exchanging letters throughout the devastation of the American Civil War, southerner Susanna Ashford and northerner Cora Poole share their thoughts about their husbands' military service, literature, and the prospects of nineteenth-century women.

Walking to Gatlinburg by Howard Frank Mosher

Working on the Underground Railroad throughout the Civil War, Morgan Kinneson is shaken by the murder of a slave and the disappearance of his brother from the Union army, triggering his life-threatening search through war-stricken landscapes. You can read more about this book in Becky's staff review.

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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