Sunday, December 27, 2020

Books I Read in 2020

With Christmas now in the rearview mirror, and with the New Year just around the corner, it's time to share the list of the books that I read during 2020. This year was particularly challenging for many different reasons, but if there was a silver lining to 2020, it was perhaps that I had a little more time to read while being limited with the number of available outside-the-house activities. As with the past four years' lists, I have highlighted those books that I found particularly interesting or enlightening, offered a fascinating argument, or challenged me to think about new ideas. It appears that I will not get any more titles read before January 1, 2021, so here is this year's list:

1. Dear Ma: The Civil War Letters of Curtis Clay Pollock, First Defender and 1st Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry by John David Hoptak

2.  Lincoln's Greatest Journey: 16 Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865 by Noah Andre Trudeau

3. The Geography of Resistance: Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad by Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

4. Four Days in 1865: The Fall of Richmond by David D. Ryan

5. Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Homefront by J. Matthew Gallman

6. Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the 18th Century Frontier by Honor Sachs

7. A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War by Lesley J. Gordon

8. Lee's Bodyguards: The 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry by Michael C. Hardy

9. The Underground Railroad: A Selection of Authentic Narratives by William Still

10. The Rest I Will Kill: William Tillman and the Unforgettable Story of How a Free Black Man Refused to become a Slave by Brian McGinty

11. Time Full of Trial: The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867 by Patricia C. Click

12. Rebel Richmond: Life and Death in the Confederate Capital by Stephen V. Ash

13. The Woman's War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War by Stephanie McCurry

14. We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1830 by Katy Simpson Smith

15. Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War edited by LeeAnn Whites and Alecia Long

16. Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee edited by John N. Fain

17. Masterful Women: Slaveholding Widows from the American Revolution through the Civil War by Kirsten E. Wood

18. All for the Union: The Civil War Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes edited by Robert Hunt Rhodes

19. The Orphan Mother: A Novel by Robert Hicks

20. Gettysburg: The First Day by Harry W. Pfanz

21. Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics in America by Matthew Fox-Amato

22. Antietam: The Soldier's Battle by John M. Priest

23. Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina by Judkin Browning

24. Virginia's Civil War edited by Peter Wallenstein and Bertram Wyatt-Brown

25. The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War: A History and Roster by James K. Bryant

26. Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America by Brian P. Luskey 

27. Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management by Caitlin Rosenthal

28. Make the Fur Fly: A History of a Union Volunteer Division in the American Civil War by Timothy B. Mudgett

29. Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War by Gary Gallagher

30. Freedom's Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner edited by Jean Lee Cole

31. The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul by Andrew Delbanco

32. An Environmental History of the Civil War by Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver

33. The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 edited by Gary Gallagher

34. A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868 by Anne Sarah Rubin

35. Irish Green and Union Blue: The Civil War Letters of Peter Welsh edited by Lawrence Kohl and Margaret Richard

36. Vicksburg's Long Shadow: The Civil War Legacy of Race and Remembrance by Christopher Waldrep

37. The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817-1863 by Andrew K. Diemer

38. Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930 by Patricia Schechter 

39. To the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and Beyond: Stabilization and Reconstruction in Tennessee and Kentucky, 1864-1866 by Benjamin F. Cooling

40. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians edited by Gary Gallagher and J. Matthew Gallman

41. Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America by W. Caleb McDaniel

42. Why Learn History When It's Already on Your Phone by Sam Wineburg

43. American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750-1865 by Jeremy Zallen

44. Honor in Command: Lieutenant Freeman S. Bowley's Civil War Service in the 30th United States Colored Infantry edited by Keith Wilson

45. Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Marten 

46. After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War by Gregory P. Downs 

47. Gettysburg: Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill by Harry W. Pfanz

48. Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina's Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era by Richard M. Reid

49. As If It Were Glory: Robert Beecham's Civil War from the Iron Brigade to the Black Regiments edited by Michael E. Stevens

50. Lens of War: Exploring Iconic Photographs of the Civil War edited by J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher

51. The Children by David Halberstam 

52. Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South by Barbara Krauthamer 

53. Driven from Home: North Carolina's Civil War Refugee Crisis by David Silkenat

54. The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign: Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion by A. Wilson Greene

55. Confederate Waterloo: The Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865, and the Controversy that Brought Down a General by Michael McCarthy

56. An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads by Cassandra L. Newby-Alexander

57. Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones

58. Civil War Supply and Strategy: Feeding Men and Moving Armies by Earl J. Hess

59. Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles by Brian K. Burton

60. Fighting for Citizenship: Black Northerners and the Debate over Military Service in the Civil War by Brian Taylor

61. A Republic in the Ranks: Loyalty and Dissent in the Army of the Potomac by Zachary A. Fry

62. Strike Them a Blow: Battle Along the North Anna River, May 21-25, 1864 by Chris Mackowski

63. Hensonville's Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania by Cheryl Renee Gooch

64. The War Went On: Reconsidering the Lives of Civil War Veterans edited by Brian Matthew Jordan and Evan C. Rothera

65. A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland by Sydney Nathans

66. Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization throughout the American Civil War by Lauren K. Thompson

67. The Untold Story of Shields Green: The Life and Death of a Harper's Ferry Raider by Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. 

68. For Their Own Cause: The 27th United States Colored Troops by Kelly D. Mezurek

69. Slavery's Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation edited by Dionne Ford and Jill Strauss

70. Rot, Riot, and Rebellion: Mr. Jefferson's Struggle to Save the University that Changed America by Rex Bowman and Carlos Santos

With some quarantine time and curtailing my travels in 2020 I was able to get 12 more books read than I did in 2019. 1.3 books per week is not too bad. We'll hope 2021 brings another year of happy reading. 


  1. Always enjoy reading your book reviews Tim. I appreciate the time and effort you put into your posts on Random Thoughts.