Preview: Trudeau, “Lincoln’s Greatest Journey

26 07 2016

Layout 1Making my way through this pile (which yesterday grew by two) we have what’s called an “unedited galley proof.” It’s one of those stages of publications I sometimes get, along with “uncorrected proofs,” “bound galleys” and “advanced reading copies (ARCs).” I’m not really sure what the differences are between all these, but they’re similarly difficult to preview because they usually don’t include indexes and sometimes have no maps or illustrations. Foot-or-endnotes often are citations only and don’t always include the more detailed notes you find in final editions. So, these previews tend to be even more brief than typical. But I made up for that by including this explanatory note.

An upcoming release (September 2016) from Savas Beatie is Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865, by Noah Andre Trudeau. This is the story of the president’s longest absence from Washington during his terms of office, when he traveled to City Point, VA, in the days preceding the eventual surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. According to the publisher, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey “rewrites much of the heretofore misunderstood story of what really happened to Lincoln during this time.”

The narrative will clock in at around 261 pages, with an additional “Sources Casebook,” a Marine Muster Roll of U.S.S. Malvern, notes, bibliography, ten maps, and a good sprinkling of illustrations.

Look for this some time in September.





New in Paperback

24 07 2016

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I have a bunch of previews of new releases to post, but to jump-start let me quickly note the release of two titles in paperback. Both have been previewed here before, so I’ll just link to those.

First is John Michael Priest’s “Stand to It and Give Them Hell:” Gettysburg as the Soldiers Experienced It from Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, July 2, 1863. It’s really tough to expand on that title, so read my preview here.

Also in paperback is the first volume of Dave Powell’s Chickamauga series, “A Mad Irregular Battle: From the Crossing of the Tennessee River Through the Second Day, August 22 – September 19, 1863. You can read that preview here.





Preview – Mackowski, “Hell Itself”

17 05 2016

Hell_ItselfOnce more into the breach goes Savas Beatie’s Emerging Civil War series, this time with Chris Mackowski’s Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864. You know the drill on these, so let’s get to the vitals. Fourteen chapters and an epilogue make up the main, 121 page narrative, with lots of illustrations and eleven Hal Jesperson maps. My favorite features of this series are the appendixes. In Hell Itself, there are six: Federal cavalry in the campaign; the Army of the Potomac’s high command; “Where’s Burnside” (hmmm…maybe wondering where his boss was and why he wasn’t communicating with him?); Longstreet’s wounding; The Wilderness then and now; and the CCC in the Wilderness.

You also get a driving tour, and Order of Battle, and a suggested reading list. All in a tough little package that travels well on the field.

 





Preview -Christopher Phillips: The Rivers Ran Backward

15 05 2016

516rYTnVK7L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_New from Oxford University Press is Christopher Phillips’s The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border. Phillips has authored other works focusing on the “middle states,” including biographies of Nathaniel Lyon and Claiborne Fox Jackson. With The Rivers Ran Backward, Phillips takes a look at the blurred boundary between North and South formed by slave states Kentucky and Missouri and free states Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, which “were home to a complex…set of values, identities, and political loyalties.” He argues that “the violence of the Civil War and cultural politics in its aftermath proved to be the strongest determining factor in shaping these states’ regional identities.” Not surprisingly, the varying and contradictory attitudes of the occupants towards race is central to the study.

You get 338 pages of sparsely illustrated text, 84 pages of end notes, and a 47 page bibliography including six pages of manuscript sources. Blurbers include James McPherson and Edward Ayers.





Preview: Gottfried, “The Maps of the Wilderness”

6 05 2016

MapsWilderness_LRGAt your bookstores now is the latest in Brad Gottfried’s Savas Beatie campaign atlas series, The Maps of the Wilderness: An Atlas of the Wilderness Campaign, Including all Cavalry Operations, May 2-6, 1864. (Usual caveat: maps, even though a pretty cut and dry visualization of the story, are a version of the story constructed from documentary evidence chosen by the mapmaker, or director. As such, they are a version of the story. They are not necessarily the story, but a story. With The Wilderness, the challenge is to represent something so notoriously disorganized in a rigid, organized, understandable format.

That being said, here’s what you get: 24 map sets (action-sections) containing a total of 124 full page color maps with facing narrative pages; orders of battle; endnotes; bibliography, and index. Gottfried has tackled a big job with The Wilderness. I’m sure there will be something for students of the battle to pick apart (there always is, with any project like this), but even in the picking apart there is understanding to be gained. We’ll all be better off checking this one out.





Preview: Conner & Mackowski, “Seizing Destiny”

18 04 2016

Layout 1One of my favorite Civil War studies, and after over 100 years still the finest on this campaign, is John Bigelow Jr.’s Chancellorsville. The problems associated with finding a copy with maps aside (I have a cheap Konecky reprint and found a faded set of maps on Ebay), one of the book’s great strengths is the detailing of the reorganization and morale building of the Army of the Potomac by Major General Joseph Hooker in the wake of the disastrous Fredericksburg Campaign. This aspect of the Winter of 1863 is the focus of a new book from Savas Beatie by Albert Conner, Jr. and Chris Mackowski, Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac’s “Valley Forge” and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union. Consulting “hundreds of primary sources”, the authors “let the soldiers speak” to tell “the full story of how the citizen soldiers of the Army of the Potomac overcame adversity, seized their destiny, and saved the nation through leadership, perseverance, patriotism, and faith.”

What you get: 316 pages of text; three appendixes including an order of battle; full bibliography and index; bottom of page footnotes; eight Hal Jesperson maps; and numerous illustrations scattered throughout.





Notes on “Early Morning of War” – Part 1

7 04 2016

downloadI know, it’s been a while. But, just like writing, maybe examining a reading can benefit with the passage of time. Here’s how this is going to work: as I read Edward Longacre’s study of the First Battle of Bull Run, The Early Morning of War, I put little Post-Its where I saw something with which I agreed or disagreed, or which I didn’t know, or which I did know and was really glad to see; essentially, anything that made me say “hmm…” So I’ll go through the book and cover in these updates where I put the Post-It and why. Some of these will be nit-picky for sure. Some of them will be issues that can’t have a right or wrong position. Some of them are, I think, cut and dry. So, here we go:

Prologue: Page 4 – Here we have Abraham Lincoln, three months after the attack on Fort Sumter (July, then), fretting over a recurring dream (you know, the one in the boat) and “the coming passage of arms” between “the forces fated to meet at Manassas.” But he also mentions a “presumed superior strength of the Union forces” in that coming fight. I have to wonder, what presumed superior strength is the author talking about here? Plans submitted to AL in June assumed meeting an enemy of at best equal numbers.

This idea of an expectation of outnumbering and overwhelming the rebels at Manassas is a recurring assumption in First Bull Run literature. But the facts just don’t back it up, as I’ve discussed before. See, for example, this post.

The author also notes earlier in the same paragraph that AL was hoping for a “complete victory at minimal cost in Northern and Southern lives” [emphasis mine]. This is tantalizing and something I’ve considered in trying to understand just what Irvin McDowell wanted to accomplish in the campaign (another assumption typically pulled from the air). That is, how did AL’s hopes for a “soft war” and a quick reconciliation, if indeed he hoped those hopes, impact McDowell’s game plan? Unfortunately, the author really didn’t examine this in much detail, even later (see this post for more thoughts on this).

Wow, that was just one Post-It. This could take some time. I have no schedule for this – guess you’ll have to check back here every…single…day.








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