Recommended Books

The 22nd Mass.

Suggests a Few Books about the
Civil War


Through Ordinary Eyes : The Civil War Correspondence of Rufus Robbins, Private, 7th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers
by Rufus Robbins, Ella Jane Bruen (Editor), Brian M. Fitzgibbons (Editor)
This extensive two-way exchange of letters between Rufus Robbins and members of his family provides a highly personalized view of the life of a Union soldier, as well as life on the home front in South Abington, Massachusetts, an important source of war materiel. Enlisting in the Seventh Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment at the seasoned age of 31, Rufus carefully crafts letters that are articulate, graphic and often witty and that contribute much to our understanding of the daily course of the war. Notes from home reflect the Robbins' family's ever-present worry and concern for Rufus' well-being. His brothers detail their involvement in the sewing of army boots, an activity for which South Abington held a large contract. Hardcover (September 2000)

California Sabers : The 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry in the Civil War
by James McLean
This is the story of the California Battalion and Hundred, a group of 500 select men who were the only organized group of Californians to fight in the East during the Civil War--as the cadre of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry. The Second Massachusetts fought a bloody guerilla war against John S. Mosby, the confederacy's "Gray Ghost," and then went on to battles across Virginia and finally to a stand that blocked Lee's army at Appomattox. This work, based on extensive research, is the first comprehensive history of this relatively unknown group and will be of great interest to Civil War enthusiasts and historians. Hardcover - 448 pages (December 2000)

The Killer Angels
by Michael Shaara
This novel reveals more about the Battle of Gettysburg than any piece of learned nonfiction on the same subject. Michael Shaara's account of the three most important days of the Civil War features deft characterizations of all of the main actors, including Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Buford, and Hancock. The most inspiring figure in the book, however, is Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, whose 20th Maine regiment of volunteers held the Union's left flank on the second day of the battle. This unit's bravery at Little Round Top helped turned the tide of the war against the rebels. There are also plenty of maps, which convey a complete sense of what happened July 1-3, 1863. Reading about the past is rarely so much fun as on these pages. Mass Market Paperback - 355 pages Reprint edition

Eye of the Storm : A Civil War Odyssey
by Robert Knox Sneden, Charles F. Bryan Jr., Nelson D. Lankford (Editor)
After the attack on Fort Sumter, Robert Knox Sneden decided to do his part to save the Union, signing on with the 40th New York Volunteers. Owing to his skills as an artist, Private Sneden was recruited to become a cartographer within a few months. And owing to his skills as both artist and cartographer, Civil War buffs can enjoy Eye of the Storm.
During his time in the army, Sneden kept a detailed diary and made hundreds of sketches in the field. In 1994, four scrapbooks in a Connecticut bank vault were found to contain some 800 drawings, the vast majority of them based on his original sketches. Soon after, a 5,000-page illustrated memoir based on Sneden's diaries was also discovered. Selections from the scrapbooks and memoir make up this marvelous book, which offers firsthand accounts of the action of the Peninsula Campaign and Second Bull Run--as well as the monotony of soldiering between battles. Perhaps the most compelling portion of Eye of the Storm is Sneden's descriptions of Andersonville, the Confederacy's notorious prison camp:

September 7, 1864: Fine weather, but very hot, 110 degrees anywhere in the shade.
This terrible heat helps to kill us off at the rate of 100 per day inside the stockade. Dead men may be seen by the score lying all along the brook which runs through the filthy swamp, while others are tearing off their soiled clothes to get thread from the seams, or patches to put on their own ragged clothes.

Sneden's account lacks the typical Victorian flowery prose, as he writes with an almost analytical detachment about the horrors around him. This detachment lends an immediacy to his memoir, bringing home the brutality of the War Between the States. Dozens of Sneden's detailed drawings illustrate the text, making this a must-have for Civil War buffs. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney
Hardcover - 329 pages (October 2000)

The Jewish Confederates (NS)
by Robert N. Rosen
"An eye-opening, myth-shattering, stereotype-breaking work of originality, elegance, and wisdom. A must-read for Civil War buffs, Jewish history fans, and all Americans interested in learning—and you will learn much—about Jewish southerners who placed loyalty to their adopted states above the moral teachings of their tradition (at least as we now interpret them). You may not agree with these Jewish Confederates, but you will surely understand them better." —Alan M. Dershowitz
Rosen N. Rosen's JEWISH CONFEDERATES shows that the breadth and strength of Southern Jews’ commitment to the Confederate cause is undeniable. Focusing on the Jewish communities throughout the South, Rosen explains each city's reasons for supporting the cause of Southern independence. Those motivations were as complex as their positions and roles in Southern society.
Profiling the prominent and humble, who volunteered for service, Rosen shows a Confederate army and government remarkably free of anti-Semitism and a Southern leadership, especially Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, without prejudice against the Jews (as opposed to Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman who issued anti-Semitic edicts).
The text is supplemented with 160 photographs and illustrations-- many previously unpublished and recently discovered images contributed by the descendants of Jewish Confederates.
Hardcover - 544 pages (October 2000)

This book is about the 22nd Mass.!

Four Brothers in Blue : Or Sunshine and Shadows of the War of the Rebellion, a Story of the Great Civil War from Bull Run to Appomattox
by Robert Goldhwaite Carter


These letters, collected and transcribed by Captain Robert Goldthwaite Carter in the 1870s, are among the finest primary sources on the daily life of the Union soldier in the Civil War. Robert and his three brothers all saw action with the Army of the Potomac under its various commanders, Generals McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, and Grant. At times in pairs but often in neighboring units, they fought on the battlefields of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Petersburg.
"Originally published in a limited edition in 1913, this reprint is unique among the mass of Civil War memoirs and reminiscences. It chronicles--in the form of letters with connecting narrative--the daily army experiences of four brothers who served in the Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865."--Journal of Southern History
"Down to earth, immediate, and gripping, reflecting how the average Billy Yank felt to camp, march, charge, back off, sit around, labor, fight. . . . A classic among soldiers' accounts of the war."--Choice
Paperback - 560 pages (September 1999) Univ of Oklahoma Pr (Trd);
ISBN: 0806131853 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.29 x 8.91 x 5.92

The Story the Soldiers Wouldn't Tell : Sex in the Civil War
Lowry (UC, San Francisco) offers an occasionally ribald but scholarly study of the sex lives of soldiers in the Civil War, using rare original documents such as letters and journals and reinterpreting official sources. He covers the pornographic book and card trade, women who served in the army as men, prostitutes and the origin of the term "hooker," legalized prostitution in Nashville and Memphis, venereal disease, rape, and homosexuality. Includes b&w photos, some of victims of the late stages of venereal diseases in the era before antibiotics. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or
Synopsis A study of the sexual activities of Civil War soldiers away from home relates their participation in prostitution, birth control, marriages, homosexuality, pornography, and others as revealed in letters, diaries, and photos. National ad/promo.
Thomas P. Lowry / Hardcover - 240 pages (July 1994)

[webmaster's note -
The 118th Penn. served with the 22nd Mass.]
28 b/w photos & 6 maps & 6 x 9 . . . one of the finest soldier accounts of the Army of the Potomac that I have ever read." --Brian Pohanka "The letters and diary of Captain Donaldson are excellent. Some are just filled with detail." --Jeffry Wert Francis Adams Donaldson, full of idealistic enthusiasm in the early days of the Civil War, enlisted in the 71st Pennsylvania Regiment. After recovering from a wound incurred at Ball's Bluff, he quickly joined the 118th Pennsylvania. As the realities of campaigns, battles, and infighting among his fellow soldiers begin to press down on him, however, his letters and diary betray a growing disenchantment that leads to a startling climax. Donaldson's fiercely candid observations reveal much about the political life of the Army of the Potomac, and his letters contribute unforgettable descriptions of action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. J. Gregory Acken is past president of the Old Baldy Civil War Round Table of Philadelphia, and a member of the board of governors of The Civil War Library and Museum. He lives in New Jersey. J. Gregory Acken, Edwin C. Bearss / Hardcover - 480 pages 1 Ed edition (July 1998)
The middle book in an anticipated trilogy, The Whirlwind of War is a unique study of the Civil War. Oates recounts the great struggle through a series of first-person monologues told in the voices of prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, William Tecumseh Sherman, Mary Boykin Chestnut, Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Douglass, John Wilkes Booth, and others. This original narrative technique brings a kind of freshness to an old and familiar story. It seems as if the characters speak directly to the reader; and Oates, an accomplished historian and biographer, is scrupulous about sticking as close to the historical record as he can. The book's one weakness is that it doesn't deliver a totally comprehensive telling of the Civil War despite its length of more than 700 pages. But the flip side is its strength: the way it helps readers understand the motives, perceptions, and behavior of the Civil War's most important actors. Sometimes it seems like there are too many books written on the Civil War. Oates nonetheless provides a welcome contribution to the field. --John Miller Stephen B. Oates / Hardcover - 512 pages 1 Ed edition (May 1998)
When quiltmaker Ozella McDaniel's told Jacqueline Tobin of the Underground Railroad Quilt Code, it sparked Tobin to place the tale within the history of the Underground Railroad. Hidden in Plain View documents Tobin and Raymond Dobard's journey of discovery, linking Ozella's stories to other forms of hidden communication from history books, codes, and songs. Each quilt, which could be laid out to air without arousing suspicion, gave slaves directions for their escape. Ozella tells Tobin how quilt patterns like the wagon wheel, log cabin, and shoofly signaled slaves how and when to prepare for their journey. Stitching and knots created maps, showing slaves the way to safety.
The authors construct history around Ozella's story, finding evidence in cultural artifacts like slave narratives, folk songs, spirituals, documented slave codes, and children's' stories. Tobin and Dobard write that "from the time of slavery until today, secrecy was one way the black community could protect itself. If the white man didn't know what was going on, he couldn't seek reprisals." Hidden in Plain View is a multilayered and unique piece of scholarship, oral history, and cultural exploration that reveals slaves as deliberate agents in their own quest for freedom even as it shows that history can sometimes be found where you least expect it.--Amy Wan
Jacqueline L. Tobin, et al / Doubleday / January 19, 1999

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz returned from years of traipsing through war zones as a foreign correspondent only to find that his childhood obsession with the Civil War had caught up with him. Near his house in Virginia, he happened to encounter people who reenact the Civil War--men who dress up in period costumes and live as Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks. Intrigued, he wound up having some odd adventures with the "hardcores," the fellows who try to immerse themselves in the war, hoping to get what they lovingly term a "period rush." Horwitz spent two years reporting on why Americans are still so obsessed with the war, and the ways in which it resonates today. In the course of his work, he made a sobering side trip to cover a murder that was provoked by the display of the Confederate flag, and he spoke to a number of people seeking to honor their ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. Horwitz has a flair for odd details that spark insights, and Confederates in the Attic is a thoughtful and entertaining book that does much to explain America's continuing obsession with the Civil War. Tony Horwitz / Hardcover / Published 1998
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. James M. McPherson / Paperback / Published 1989
Ask Civil War diehards when they first fell in love with the War Between the States and there's a good chance you'll hear about one of the early editions of this book, which was originally published on the war's centennial. Thoroughly updated by the remarkable James M. McPherson to take advantage of the latest scholarship, this classic retains all of the wonderful features Bruce Catton originally included. And then there are the pictures--they are some of the most striking battlefield visuals available. The American Heritage New History of the Civil War makes a great gift for young people interested (or potentially interested) in history, or good reading for folks who want an overview of how the North and South fought across five Aprils. Bruce Catton, et al / Hardcover / Published 1996

Civil War : A Narrative (3 Vol. Set)
What separates Foote's narrative from most other retellings of America's War Between the States is the way he tells it: readers don't seem to see this as merely reading a remote account of the war; rather, they get the sensation of sharing in the experience as it unfolds. It's almost as though Foote can put us there to experience it ourselves, for Foote excels at telling stories - TRUE stories - and brings history alive in this fashion. If you want the definitive HISTORY of the war, you can access the 128 volume 'War of the Rebellion' and the 30 volume 'Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies', issued by the government in 1880-1901 and 1897-1927. But if you want to read the best STORY of the war, read Shelby Foote. Shelby Foote / Hardcover / Published 1974
Synopsis: An unlikely hero to the Army of the Potomac, college professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain led the 20th Maine Division in all the fiercest battles of the Eastern theatre, winning the Medal of Honor for his heroic leadership at Gettysburg. A brilliant, insightful, must-read for all Civil War buffs. Introduction by James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom. Period artwork, photos, and engravings. Reprint. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, James M.McPherson / Mass Market Paperback / Published 1993

Stars in Their Courses : The Gettysburg Campaign June-July 1863
Shelby Foote, who cut such a courtly figure in Ken Burns's PBS series The Civil War, is an uncommonly graceful writer as well, and this careful study of the 1863 Gettysburg campaign assumes the contours of a classical tragedy. Foote positions readers on the field of battle itself, among swirling smoke and clattering grapeshot, and invites us to feel for ourselves its hellishness: "men on both sides were hollering as they milled about and fired, some cursing, others praying ... not a commingling of shouts and yells but rather like a vast mournful roar." Foote's fine book is history as literature, and a welcome addition to any Civil War buff's library Shelby Foote / Hardcover / Published 1994

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