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Old 06-11-2012, 06:26 AM   #1
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1860 Civil War book

Having travelled extensively in the US, I find that it may be time to educate myself on some US history. More specifically the 1860 Civil War. Being Danish (born and raised) my knowledge on the subject is limited, but I am keen to know more.

I am looking for a book (an e-book may be nice) that documents the facts, in a non-biased way. Looking for books on the Civil War I have a vast choice, but picking the right one becomes all the more difficult.

Can any of you recommend a book that offers strictly "matter of fact" documentary style reading?


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Old 06-11-2012, 09:16 AM   #2
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"...in a non-biased way"

That may be a problem.

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Old 06-11-2012, 09:24 AM   #3
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I'd be interested in such a book as well.
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #4
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Try Bruce Catton's trilogy on the Army of the Potomic. Mr.. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness At Appomattox. You can get this as one volume Bruce Catton's Civil War. I think he won a Pulitzer Prize for History and the books were published in the 1950's. Written in a narrative style so it is enjoyable to read. Of all the books I owned on the American Civil War, these are the ones I kept. From the Confederate viewpoint, you might try books by James McPherson. Also from another perspective, try a book by Walt Whitman who was a volunteer at Union hospitals on Washington, D.C. During the war. Some of his writing will break your heart.
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:47 PM   #5
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Perhaps a few links to consider as starting point:

U.S. Civil War - Information, Facts, and Links

The top 12 Civil War books ever written - Salon.com

Research from an Australian Priest...might be an interesting "foreigner" take.
US Civil War eBook Library

Free Free eBooks: Civil War (US) (Kindle Nook iPad PDF EPub Html) DigitalBookIndex
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:39 PM   #6
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I read Catton's Army of the Potomac about 15 years ago and it really put the battles into perspective and chronological order.

I would also suggest you watch Ken Burn's series on the Civil War (and his one on National Parks!).

I'm headed off the Gettysburg this weekend to hike the Billy Yank and Johnny Reb trails (17 miles in total) with the Boy Scouts!
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:23 PM   #7
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A "twist" on the the civil war history is a trilogy of "what if" scenario books by Newt Gingrich & William Forestchen . The trilogy (Gettysburg, Grant Comes East, & Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant, the Final Victory) begins with the premise of a Yankee loss at Gettysburg. Shelby Foote has also written several books on the Civil War. Jeff Shaara and Michael Shaara wrote books on the Civil War and three come to mind: Gods and Generals, The Killer Angels, and The Last Full Measure.
The library of civil war books is extensive.

Any public Library will have an extensive collection on the Civil War books. Amazon has an extensive collection of both hard cover and ebooks. Some of the ebooks for an ereader (Kindle) are available for free too.
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:34 PM   #8
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I would second the writings of Bruce Catton. Also Ken Burns' PBS series on the American Civil War is outstanding....I believe the series is available on DVD. One of the commentators therein is a Southern gentleman by the name of Shelby Foote, referred to above. I find his comments and historical insight fascinating. By the way, for a long time, those in the deep South never called it the Civil War. They referred to it as The War of Northern Aggression...seriously. There are also American "puritsts" who refer to the conflict as The War Between the States, rather than The Civil War. Regardless, the carnage of that conflict and the staggering loss of life of that war are still mind-boggling to me. You will benefit from any of the sources mentioned in the posts.
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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Personally, I found the ken burns documentary too dry for me. Jeff shaara is a good writer and for a different focus, killing Lincoln is an informative and enjoyable read.
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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I always enjoy an unbiased review about the WAH of NAWthern aGRESSun.

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Old 06-11-2012, 07:47 PM   #11
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And after you are done reading, stop in central Virginia on your next trip to the US and experience the largest collection of significant battle sites within a couple hour drive. Lived here almost 30 years and still amazed at what occurred here.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:25 PM   #12
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I thought James M. McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" gave a very good picture of the whole war period. He doesn't cover the battles very extensively but rather gives the background for going to war and what is happening to both governments during the war.

As for battles, there are thousands of books on the individual battles and it would be very difficult to pick a single book. I did read Stephen W. Sears' book "Gettysburg" prior to visiting Gettysburg and it helped a great deal in understanding the battle.

Both of these books are available from Amazon for the Kindle.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
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IMHO, as a former American History teacher, the Ken Burns series is most likely to fit what you are looking for. Burns is a no nonsense historian who gives factual information . My only fault with this particular work is that is a bit too long.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:24 AM   #14
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Thank you for all your suggestions.

I think that I will start with James M. McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era". I am more interested in the background for the war, rather than specific details of individual battles. Having checked on Amazon, this book gets good reviews from many readers.

Here is another good reason for my choice: The book can be downloaded for free. I got onto rapidshare.com and it worked perfectly. Now I can spend my money on one of the other suggested books.

Thank you all

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