A recent visit to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg and the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center made me reflect on the horrors of the Civil War. I knew that Antietam was the bloodiest day in the War, but a film at the museum in Harrisburg showed a man snapping his fingers and saying that statistically a man died every second for six hours. The Gettysburg Cyclorama has always amazed me by depicting such a deadly battle in such a peaceful setting.
The first book I read about the Civil War was Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. The first film I saw about the Civil War was Gone with the Wind. Perhaps not the best introduction, but it encouraged me to read several of Bruce Catton’s popular trilogies. I suddenly had a more accurate, less romanticized, view that did not feature Rhett Butler. To this day the film Shenandoah (1965) can make me start sniffling in the opening scene when Jimmy Stewart talks to his dead wife. Glory (1989) and Gettysburg (1993) are my favorite Civil War films, but I tend to forget Brigadier General John Buford’s name and refer to him as Sam Elliott.
During this period as the 150th anniversary of the War is being honored, I have compiled a list of books, all fiction, which may be of interest to anyone considering reading about the past in an attempt not to repeat it. The list is brief and is not intended to provide a balanced view.
The Killer Angels (Michael Shaara)
God and Generals and The Last Full Measure (Jeff Shaara)
Cold Mountain (Charles Frazier)
White Dove at Morning (James Lee Burke)
The March (E.L. Doctorow)
The March (Geraldine Brooks)
Enemy Women (Paulette Jiles)
Widow of the South (Robert Hicks)
Devil’s Dream: a novel about Nathan Bedford (Madison Smart Bell)
Coal Black House (Robert Olmstead)
Wilderness (Lance Weller)
Killing Lincoln (Bill O’Reilly)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Websites related to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War
posted by S. Bakos