Care to recommend a book about the US Civil War?

Recently when I was sharing how much I enjoyed reading Destiny of the Republic I was told that it’s written in a style called narrative history.

Are any of you aware of a book in a similar style about the US Civil War? My history education took place in the north east. There was a disproportionate emphasis on the Revolution. Now I live in Maryland, and find myself wishing I knew more about the Civil War.

Any suggestions?

Honestly, the best recent book about the war and its long-term effect is:

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. I knew Tony (a little) when he lived in Waterford and I lived out in the nearby hills.

But if you want a history, I always believe in going to root sources (my degrees are in history, FWIW).

Company Aytch - The Sideshow to the Big Show - The author, Sam Watkins, was a confederate soldier and has many interesting things to say about the war.

Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War - I think highly of this one as well, though IIRC it’s a bit big on the Stonewall worship.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era This provides a good overview of social, military and political backgrounds for the war.

A great narrative history about the war is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. But it’s only about the Battle of Gettysburg not the entire war. And it’s technically listed as fiction although it’s virtually non-fiction.

I suppose you could say the “gold standard” of Civil War histories is Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative. It is a massive 3-volume history of the war, very readable (if you have the time to dedicate to it). It’s certainly the best known, but I don’t know enough about the period to speak to its accuracy or to compare it to other works on the war.

No, I’d call it the “gray standard”, given it’s pro-southern bias. I prefer the Bruce Catton works, especially the Pulitzer-winning A Stillness at Appomattox.

Thanks for these. “massive” and “3 volume” don’t fit in with my reading goals for the new year but a few of these will be added to my list. Well, all of them will be added, but just two or three for 2013.

I’ve set a goal of 40 books for the year. I know 50 is more traditional, but I have too many on my list that I know will take me more than a week.

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, while ostensibly about Lincoln, is an excellent analysis of the politics of what lead up to the war, and the prosecution of same. It’s weighty, at over 900 pages, but well written.

If you’re looking for some background, I just finished America’s Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union by Fergus Bordewich. It’s an excellent and very readable book about the Compromise of 1850. While some of the players like Clay, Webster, and Calhoun were on the way out, the book also talks about the up and coming leaders like Douglas, Davis, Seward, and Stephens - men who would be leading the war effort in ten years. (But not Lincoln - he was a very minor political figure in 1850.)

Yes, his books are more or less one long hagiography to Nathan Bedford Forrest, which belief is generally only held by those of a certain persuasion, ie what is called Southern Apologists”.

Don’t be scared by the anti-southern bias. Shelby Foote is one of the preeminent Civil War historians and did a lot more than write “massive volumes.” Any of his stuff is good. Read what is available. Bruce Catton is a good one, too. Also, James McPherson.

I recommend James Stokesbury, “A Short History of the Civil War”. It is a narrative history, in chronological order, rather than thematic. It’s 329 pages, but I found it a very easy read.

2nding Killer Angels. it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and it is gripping.