Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cathy's Civil War Reading Recommendations

April marks the sesquicentennial of the of the beginning of the Civil War.  There have been thousands ofbooks published about the Civil War, and many just this year in commemoration of this divisive and decisive period in our history.  Every day of the war was full of news and all the news corresponded to real people and their experiences of the war.   You can go to the history shelves and find a wealth of well documented material, or, you can go to the fiction shelves and read stories about the Civil War.  These are  perhaps not so well documented but sometimes lessons are easier to learn and the human toll more palpable when told through the craft of a novel.

First though, we have a great big record of the events of the war:
The New York Time: The Complete Civil War 1861-1865
The Civil War as you've never experienced it before, through original, first-hand reportage of The New York Times, the country's newspaper of record. Available for the first time in a unique book/DVD package.

The New York Times, established in 1851, was one of the few newspapers with correspondents on the front lines throughout the Civil War. The Complete Civil War collects every article written about the war from 1861 to 1865, plus select pieces before and after the war and is filled with the action, politics, and personal stories of this monumental event. From the first shot fired at Fort Sumter to the surrender at Appomattox, and from the Battle of Antietam to the Battle of Atlanta, as well as articles on slavery, states rights, the role of women, and profiles of noted heroes such as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, the era comes alive through these daily first-hand accounts.

- More than 600 of the most crucial and interesting articles in the book-typeset and designed for easy reading
- Commentary by Editors and Civil War scholars Harold Holzer and Craig Symonds
- More than 139,000 additional articles on the DVD-ROM- every article the "Times" published during the war.
- A detailed chronology highlights articles and events of interest that can be found on the disk.
Strikingly designed and illustrated with hundreds of maps, historical photographs, and engravings, this book is a treasure for Civil War and history buffs everywhere.

 Killer Angels
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.

Gone With The Wind
Margaret Mitchell's epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.

Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.

In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.

 Cold Mountain
In 1997, Charles Frazier's debut novel Cold Mountain made publishing history when it sailed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks, won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, and went on to sell over three million copies. 
Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic odyssey, hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.
From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March, and crafted a story "filled with the ache of love and marriage and with the power of war upon the mind and heart of one unforgettable man" (Sue Monk Kidd). With "pitch-perfect writing" (USA Today), Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time, March secures Geraldine Brooks's place as a renowned author of historical fiction.

 My Name Is Mary Sutter
Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail-including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others-My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.

 Across Five Aprils
The Newbery Award-winning author of "Up a Road Slowly" presents the unforgettable story of a brave boy who comes of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War.   Based on stories the author's Grandfather used to tell about his family and their experiences
living in Southern Illinois during the war.

Just In Time, Abraham Lincoln
Michael and Derek don't expect the adventure of a lifetime visiting a Civil War museum with their grandmother. But the mysterious museum keeper invites them to play a game, and before they know it, they're walking through a door straight into a very realistic depiction of 1863. They see the destruction at the battlefield of Antietam, and even meet President Lincoln. Soon, they start to wonder if it's really a game, after all, and suddenly they're racing across Confederate-occupied land to return to their own time before it's too late.

Patricia Polacco's time-travel premise is fascinating--who knew that history museums could literally be doorways into the past? She makes history exciting for young readers, drawing them into a pivotal part of our nation's development.

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