Sunday, April 7, 2019

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Well, another month flew by and my library continued to increase by a few more books. Its growth has almost become as inevitable as death and taxes. This most recent group of books has some old and some new and some in between.

The "old" is Frederic Bancroft's classic study Slave Trading in the Old South, which was first published in 1931. However, unlike many slavery studies that came out during the Jim Crow-era and that claimed the institution was benign and even beneficial, Slave Trading in the Old South used thorough primary source research to show that the domestic slave trade was instead the commodification of human beings for blatant exploitative purposes.

One of the "new" is the recently published Upon the Fields of Battle: Essays on the Military History of America's Civil War by editors Andrew S. Bledsoe and Andrew F. Lang, and featuring a forward by Gary Gallagher. Not only do I feel a certain obligation to keep up with the latest scholarship in Civil War military history for my work, I also genuinely enjoy reading it. This 2018 volume includes studies by many of the top scholars in the field. Familiar names like Kenneth Noe, Earl Hess, Brian McKnight, John Hennessy, and Brian Jordan, among others, present a dozen thought provoking essays on a diverse set of military history topics.

An "in between" is Gary Gallagher's Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War. This 2008 book is one that I've wanted to read since it came out. Being the owner of several Civil War prints, I'm interested to see if Gallagher discriminates between those art pieces that seem to reflect images of the war versus those that appear to romanticize it.

No student of the Petersburg Campaign should be without a copy of Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg by Earl J. Hess. Although I've already read it, I now have it among my collection for ready reference.

Another of the "new is The First Republican Army: The Army of Virginia and the Radicalization of the Civil War by John H. Matsui. I've long been an enthusiast of the Second Manassas Campaign and try to read any new works on that and associated fights. Matsui's book appears to argue that the leadership of the Army of Virginia had a more radical political bent than their colleagues in the more conservative Army of the Potomac and helped convince Lincoln about the military necessity of emancipation in the late summer/early fall of 1862.

Another of the "new" is published by Fordham University Press. A Great Sacrifice: Northern Black Soldiers, Their Families, and the Experience of Civil War by James G. Mendez makes use of letters written by family members of African American soldiers to Union military officials and now held in the National Archives. The letters illustrate the effect the Civil War had on black families in the free states and the contributions that black soldiers made to preserve the Union, end slavery, and advance their claims for citizenship and equality.

My interest in Civil War naval subjects continues to grow with my library. So, I was quite happy when our book club group at work chose Iron Dawn: The Monitor, the Merrimack [Virginia], and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History by Richard Snow for our next discussion. Evolution in weapons technology is a hallmark of Civil War history, and I'm looking forward to learning more about how it played out on the waters. 

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