Sunday, January 3, 2021

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Much like November, December helped expand my library's titles. I am thankful for the ones that I received as gifts from friends and family.   

In The Accident of Color: A Story of Race and Reconstruction, by Daniel Brook, Charleston and New Orleans serve as the focus for this study on how Reconstruction complicated things for the mixed-race population of these two Southern cities. In some cases, having attained a measure of economic independence and social status, the mixed race free people of color faced new challenges in the post-war years.   


A book that has received a significant amount of positive attention is Thavolia Glymph's The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation. Too often Civil War women's studies center on a specific group of women. However, in this book, Glymph give us a wider look into how different women; North and South, white and black, rich and poor, free and enslaved, all played critical roles in the conflict. 

When we host guest speakers at the Petersburg Civil War Roundtable who have recently authored books, we often sell copies and have the speaker sign them. If I do not already own a copy of a speaker's book, I usually buy one. Dr. Jonathan White from Christopher Newport University was our speaker in early December and he shared with us about Our Little Monitor: The Greatest Invention of the Civil War, which he coauthored with Anna Gibson Holloway. I am looking forward to learning more about the Monitor, it's inventor, and how it has come to be remembered through the years.

The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown's Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865 by John Horn, is a book that I've had on my wish list since even before it was released about a year ago. This regiment's participation in many of the Army of Northern Virginia's campaigns and its close association with the Cockade City where it was largely raised makes it an important read for me. 

After listening to Evan A. Kutzler discuss Living by Inches: The Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feeling of Captivity in Civil War Prisons with Civil War Talk Radio host Dr. Gerry Prokopowicz, I knew I wanted to read this book. This social history, which focuses on how POWs experienced their incarcerations through their five senses is sure to shed new light on this specific area of study. Ex-POWs wrote extensively in the post war year in effort to ensure their sufferings were not forgotten. It will be interesting to see how they describe how they survived these hell-holes. 

Confederate Exceptionalism: Civil War Myth and Memory in the Twenty-First Century by Nicole Maurantonio adds to the ever-growing body of Civil War memory studies. I know some Civil War enthusiasts have tired from memory studies, but I almost always find them insightful and thought provoking. In this book Maurantonio seeks to understand, and then share, questions that deserve deeper consideration. How do proclamations of "heritage not hate" square with reverence for symbols and personalities of the past who espoused pro-slavery and white supremacist beliefs? Her answer appears to be the blending of the myths of the Lost Cause and American exceptionalism. This timely title should make for a fascinating read.

Another book that I have been looking forward to reading is Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization throughout the American Civil War by Lauren K. Thompson. In fact, I was so excited to read it, that I finished it over the Christmas break. Thompson covers the topic from several different angles and explaining that fraternization was practiced at times by soldiers to gain information, get things they needed, to try to take some control over often out of control situations, and to resist their officers' authority. I was interested in reading it because of the many instances of fraternization that occurred around Petersburg due the special circumstances of that campaign. I was happy to see many examples from Petersburg included.  

When one thinks of the Underground Railroad, the route of association is typically north. The North Star, Canada, and the northern free states usually figured prominently in the escape plans of enslaved people seeking freedom. However, as Alice L. Baumgartner explains in South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War, some enslaved individuals and families fled the opposite way when that direction proved to be more beneficial and efficient. With Mexico abolishing slavery in 1837, it was more practical for enslaved people in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and similar "Cotton Kingdom" points to head southwest. Mexico's move to outlaw slavery also created political tensions that added fuel to the growing fires of sectionalism that led to the Civil War. 

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