Friday, December 4, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

November provided quite a book haul for me. Between my birthday gifts from my wonderful wife, a few good deal purchases here and there, and a couple of gifts from friends, I added a number of interesting new titles to my ever-growing library.

Hinsonville's Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania by Cheryl Renee Gooch is a slim volume, but don't let its size fool you. It is packed full of amazing stories about USCT veterans from one small southeastern Pennsylvania community. I received this one for my birthday and thoroughly enjoyed reading it already.

I recently had the pleasure of providing a guided tour of the Seven Days Battles to Mr. Gibert Kennedy and his wife. Kennedy is the author of the recently published A South Carolina Upcountry Saga: The Civil War Letters of Barham Bobo Foster and His Family, 1860-1863. He wanted to see a number of the places where his ancestors fought in the 3rd South Carolina during the Seven Days. He kindly gave me copy of the book as thanks. I am a huge fan of soldiers' published letters, so I certainly look forward to enjoying this one. 

We were fortunate to have Chris Mackowski as our November speaker at the Petersburg Civil War Roundtable. I had requested Chris to speak about the fighting at the North Anna River during the Overland Campaign. He did a fantastic job of explaining the Army of the Potomac's offensive movements and the Army of Northern Virginia's counter actions. To help reinforce what he shared and to learn more, I got a copy of his book on the subject, Strike Them A Blow: Battle along the North Anna River, May 21-25, 1864. I've already finished reading it and I highly recommend it.

Chris was selling a number of his books at the Petersburg Civil War Roundtable, and Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac's "Valley Forge" and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union, which he co-authored Albert Z. Conner, Jr., caught my eye. The winter of 1862-63 was a trying time of the Union's eastern theater army. With the defeat at Fredericksburg, and yet another failed general, a lot was on the line. 

When I was a junior in high school I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X for the first time. Alex Haley's writing was captivating and Malcolm's life story was so eye-opening. I've read a few other Malcolm X biographies over the many years since, but this one really has me intrigued due to the many interviews the other conducted over about 30 years. The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne is getting good reviews, so I'm sure I'll enjoy digging into it and learning new things about this complicated man's life. 

When I lived in Kentucky, I ventured out to the western part of the state to share with some teachers about my then research project about Kentuckians' reactions to John Brown's raid. On that trip I made a side excursion visit to Fort Donelson National Battlefield for the first time. At the visitor's center I encountered the story of Andrew Jackson Smith. Smith, a Kentucky native, ran away and joined in with an Illinois regiment serving as an officer's body servant. Wounded at Fort Donelson, Smith later joined the 55th Massachusetts when African Americans were finally allowed to enlist. For his heroism during the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina, Smith would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor in 2001. Smith's biography is now available with the new book Carrying the Colors: The Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Andrew Jackson Smith, by W. Robert Beckman and Sharon S. McDonald. 

A book that I've has on my "wish list" since even before it was released is Diane Miller Sommerville's Aberration of Mind: Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War-Era South. I was so happy to receive a copy for my birthday. The psychological distress caused by the experience of war, both on the frontlines as well as on the home front, along with the tremendous amount of change, affected Southerners across racial and gender lines. I am a firm believer that wars cast long shadows that in turn produce psychological trauma simply too great for some to endure.     

I follow Civil War book news pretty closely. So, sometimes, I am a little surprised when I miss a title. I recently happened across Alfred C. Young III's Lee's Army during the Overland Campaign: A Numerical Study while browsing through the LSU Press online catalog. I'm not sure how it previously escaped my attention. To understand the Petersburg Campaign, a definite center of my interest, it is necessary to understand the campaign that preceded it. I also enjoy numerical studies, so this work should help kill two birds with one reading.

Happy page turning! 

1 comment:

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