History Gift Guide – American Civil War Books

History Gift Guide – American Civil War Books

Many great heroes and leaders gained nationwide acclaim and notoriety during the American Civil War and there are many history books to tell their stories. You definitely cannot go wrong with anyone of these history books for the History Buff on your list.  Make sure you also check out the American Civil War history movies section.

Here’s a list of some of the best selling history books on the Civil War!

[amazon_link id=”0345359429″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson[/amazon_link]

Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with an admirable thoroughness. He covers the military aspects of the war in all of the necessary detail, and also provides a helpful framework describing the complex economic, political, and social forces behind the conflict. Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.

[amazon_link id=”0671867423″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills[/amazon_link]

A former professor of Greek at Yale University, Wills painstakingly deconstructs Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and discovers heavy influence from the early Greeks and the 19th century Transcendentalists. The author also probes Lincoln’s decision to rely more on the Declaration of Independence than the U.S. Constitution, a decision Wills says represented a “revolution in thought.” He speaks effusively of the 272-word address: “All modern political prose descends from [it]. The Address does what all great art accomplishes. [I]t tease[s] us out of thought.” Wills’ book won the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

[amazon_link id=”0684824906″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin[/amazon_link]

In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln’s leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln’s political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. These men, all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln not only convinced them to join his administration–Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Bates as attorney general–he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well.

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[amazon_link id=”037550494X” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman[/amazon_link]

Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. In A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative. Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of the Civil War. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy.

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[amazon_link id=”1400040159″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart[/amazon_link]

1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents’ faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal. It set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom. The book introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes—among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president. Adam Goodheart takes us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.

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[amazon_link id=”0394749138″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set) by Shelby Foote[/amazon_link]

This beautifully written trilogy of books on the American Civil War is not only a piece of first-rate history, but also a marvelous work of literature. Shelby Foote brings a skilled novelist’s narrative power to this great epic. These three books, however, are his legacy. His southern sympathies are apparent: the first volume opens by introducing Confederate President Jefferson Davis, rather than Abraham Lincoln. But they hardly get in the way of the great story Foote tells. This hefty three volume set should be on the bookshelf of any Civil War buff.

[amazon_link id=”0618485384″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears[/amazon_link]

Stephen W. Sears has delivered a masterwork in Gettysburg, his single-volume history of the Civil War’s greatest campaign. Drawing on original source material, from soldiers’ letters to the Official Records of the war, Sears offers dramatic and informed accounts of every aspect of the campaign, from well-hewn portraits of the battle’s leaders to detailed analyses of their strategies and tactics. Sears depicts General Meade’s remarkable performance in his first week of army command and pinpoints General Lee’s responsibility in the agonizing failure of the Confederate army. With characteristic style and insight, Sears brings the epic tale of the battle in Pennsylvania vividly to life.

[amazon_link id=”0914427679″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (The American Civil War) by Ulysses S. Grant[/amazon_link]

Grant was sick and broke when he began work on his Memoirs. Driven by financial worries and a desire to provide for his wife, he wrote diligently during a year of deteriorating health. He vowed he would finish the work before he died. One week after its completion, he lay dead at the age of 63. Publication of the Memoirs came at a time when the public was being treated to a spate of wartime reminiscences, many of them defensive in nature, seeking to refight battles or attack old enemies. Grant’s penetrating and stately work reveals a nobility of spirit and an innate grasp of the important fact, which he rarely displayed in private life. He writes in his preface that he took up the task “with a sincere desire to avoid doing injustice to anyone, whether on the National or the Confederate side.”

[amazon_link id=”0345348109″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara[/amazon_link]

The Killer Angels (1974) is a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. The book tells the story of four days of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War: June 30, 1863, as the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy move into battle around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and July 1, July 2, and July 3, when the battle was fought. The story is character driven and told from the perspective of various protagonists. A film adaptation of the novel, titled Gettysburg, was released in 1993.

[amazon_link id=”0345422473″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara[/amazon_link]

In a prequel of sorts to his father Michael Shaara’s 1974 epic novel The Killer Angels, Jeff Shaara explores the lives of Generals Lee, Hancock, Jackson and Chamberlain as the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg approaches. Shaara captures the disillusionment of both Lee and Hancock early in their careers, Lee’s conflict with loyalty, Jackson’s overwhelming Christian ethic and Chamberlain’s total lack of experience, while illustrating how each compensated for shortcomings and failures when put to the test. The perspectives of the four men, particularly concerning the battles at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, make vivid the realities of war.

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