Category: Books

The Lumpkin Daughters »

While not strictly Civil War related, this book – reviewed here in the NY Times – shows the legacy of at least one die-hard secessionist upon his daughters. This sounds like a fascinating family history. These are just snapshots of a densely braided biography spanning eight decades, not counting the Lumpkins’ forebears and the rediscovery […]

O Captains, My Captains »

The Washington Post has offered a comparison of Lincoln’s speeches with Trump’s. It’s depressing reading – as one commenter puts it, “We’re comparing apples and feces, here.” – but maybe skip the Trump parts and revel in the beautiful humanity of Lincoln’s words. I particularly liked this quote about immigrants. As a Canadian living in […]

Book Review: The Impeachers »

As they watch modern day Washington with a wary eye, Impeachment proponents can find some aspirational reading in a new book about Andrew Johnson’s proceedings. The Guardian reviews it here. Implicit or not, parallels abound with current American life. Johnson’s “Swing Around the Circle” railroad trip featured rallies at which his language was (at best) […]

Armies of Deliverance »

A glowing review for a new Civil War book, Armies of Deliverance, by Elizabeth Varon. I usually avoid quoting last paragraphs of the articles I link, but this is quite the parting comment by the reviewer. While Varon doesn’t quite deliver on her argument about deliverance, she narrates battles and campaigns with an unusually deft, […]

Impeachment, the First Time Around »

There’s a new book about Andrew Johnson and his impeachment, and the New York Times has given it a rave review. I’ll have to pick it up, but I might wait to see how the current Constitutional crisis shakes out first. I’m not sure it’ll make for consolatory reading. By February 1868, President Andrew Johnson […]

Courting Mr. Lincoln »

I gave up on fiction a few years ago, but I’m curious about this new book. Lincoln’s live-in friendship with Joshua Speed is a topic I find endearing, and a great novelist can often make fiction feel like real history. (See also: Gore Vidal’s Lincoln.) Abraham Lincoln is irresistible to writers. Historians have delved into […]

David Blight on Frederick Douglass »

David Blight’s voice has become very familiar to me – I listened to his entire Yale iTunes U course on the Civil War, and have sought out his podcast appearances since then. This is the first time I’ve seen him speak, and this brief clip from a 2009 interview beautifully summarises Douglass’ life. By all […]

Political Violence »

Mother Jones interviews Joanne Freeman, author of The Field of Blood, examining physical violence in Congress in the run-up to the Civil War. If the book is as fun as the interview, it promises to be a rollicking read! That’s a great example both of the performative aspect of it and the ways in which it’s […]

A Few of My Favourite Things »

I responded to a Reddit user’s call for Civil War book suggestions, and it occurred to me that – in this time of gift buying and giving – I could cross post my list here. In no particular order, I give you: * Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering deals with the mass death […]

American Ulysses »

There’s a new Grant biography for us all to enjoy. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant is here reviewed very favourably by the Chicago Tribune. Given the fuss and fury of this year’s election campaign, it might be nice to spend 850 pages immersed in the company of a genuinely nice man. (Though […]