Friday, December 29, 2017

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

This Christmas season brought with it a several opportunities to expand my library. Some of my recent acquisitions were books that I received as direct gifts or from gift card purchases, one was for a book review, and one is a selection that that I had on my Wishlist that I bought for myself when I saw the price had dropped.

Released just last October, Ron Chernow's Grant is receiving rave reviews. I've seen the author interviewed on a number of popular talk and morning television shows, so hopefully it sparks an interest with the larger population and creates a buzz much like his earlier book on Alexander Hamilton did. However, I don't know if Grant is the material to make into a hip-hop musical, but hey, who knows? Grant runs almost 1000 pages, so it may be a while before I commit to starting it, although I have heard it is a true page-turner.

Anytime something comes out on Nat Turner, I eventually have to read it. That historical event is one of those that particularly fascinates me. I'm excited to read the interpretive approach that David Allmendinger, Jr. puts forth in Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County and see what new evidence he finds to make this book different from several others that have been published in the last decade or so.

Another topic that is finally receiving more and more scholarly attention is Civil War guerrilla warfare. One of the emerging historians in this field is Matthew Hulbert. His book The Ghosts of Guerrilla Warfare: How Civil War Bushwhackers became Gunslingers in the American West was published in October 2016 by the University of Georgia Press, and has received excellent reviews in a number of scholarly journals. This book seeks to show how Civil War era guerrillas have been remembered and portrayed since the conflict.

Tera W. Hunter's Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century, promises to be a social history triumph. Nineteenth century white Americans, who most often viewed African Americans as non-citizens politically, and inferiors socially, also often viewed black marriage as less recognizable than their own. Enslaved, and even free blacks, who had little to no legal standing sometimes saw themselves separated from their partners on the will or whim of those who held power. I am interested in learning more about how blacks themselves viewed their marriages and I'm also hopeful a number of the historical myths surrounding slave ceremonies will be covered. 

A Union Indivisible: Secession and Politics of Slavery in the Border South by Michael D. Robinson is another work that I had on my Wishlist. However, the literary gods must have smiled on me, because I was soon blessed by receiving it in exchange for writing a book review for it. Border state studies have really ramped up in the last eight years or so. And A Union Indivisible looks to be a fine addition to this particular field along with studies from William C. Harris, Aaron Astor, Christopher Phillips, Anne Marshall, Patrick Lewis, Matthew Stanley, and Brian McKnight, among others. I remember first hearing about this work while dining with William J. Cooper, Jr., who was the keynote speaker at the Kentucky History Education Conference a few years back. He mentioned he had a graduate student named Michael Robinson who was working on a dissertation on the border states. I had been keeping my eyes and ears open for its publication since that time, as Cooper gave his student such high praise for his writing and research. I'm looking forward to reading it and continuing to expand my knowledge of the border states during the Civil War era.


  1. Chernow's GRANT is excellent! I'm listening to the audiobook now (and will be for some time...only 26 more hours to go, and Lee hasn't surrendered yet!). I really enjoy your blog.

  2. Jurgen - Thanks for the kind words! I've only tried an audio book once. It worked nicely for a long, long drive.