You’re looking for the Best Civil War Books 2021? The Civil War has been cemented in history since the most bizarre war fought on American land. For four years, the Union Soldiers of the North fought the Confederates of the South, expecting to overthrow the establishment of slavery. This resulted in the reduction of over 600,000 lives and, in the end, the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865.
Many Civil War books have been written because the first shot rang out in 1861. Though no single publication can try to pay for the unlimited tragedies or significant events over those four years, the following functions add valuable new views to the storyline. This listing will meet any Civil War historians, from fictionalized reports and combat retellings to soldiers’ eye-opening diaries.
Best Books on the American Civil War History
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
by Ulysses S. Grant
Completed only days before his departure hailed from Mark Twain as “the most impressive work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar,” that is the now-legendary autobiography of ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT (1822-1885), 18th president of the USA and the Union general who headed the North to victory in the Civil War.
Although Grant opens with stories of his boyhood, his schooling at West Point, and his early military career in the Mexican-American warfare of the 1840s, it’s Grant’s romantic observations about the behavior of the Civil War, which comprise the majority of the job, which have done this necessary reading for background students, military strategists, and Civil War buffs alike.
This unabridged version features all of the substance that was initially printed in two volumes in 1885 and 1886, such as maps, illustrations, along with the text of Grant’s July 1865 report to Washington on the condition of the armies under his control.
The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah
by Wiley Sword
Wiley Sword’s nuanced, nonfiction account of the tragic trajectory of General John Bell Hood’s command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee reveals the true story of this man. Hood, a victim of pride and poor strategy, led the Civil War soldiers of the South through inept battles and the tragic loss of many lives. This authoritative and attentive work captures Hood’s recklessness in his foolishness, from the attack on Franklin that was later dubbed the “Gettysburg of the West” to Nashville, where the Confederates were defeated in a humiliating battle.
Mr. Lincoln’s Army
by Bruce Catton
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Army of the Potomac Trilogy story begins with the riveting volume of Mr. Lincoln’s Army. Rooted in the first battles of the Civil War, Catton’s work chronicles charismatic George McClellan’s journey as he leads the production of the Union Army of the Potomac.
McClellan’s selfish ambition clashed with President Lincoln’s hopes to get its war at every turn. Throughout McClellan’s direction through a bloody stalemate and his final removal from control, Catton brings to life a vibrant and mythical object of Civil War history, which can be afterward continued in the trilogy’s following volumes, Glory Road and A Stillness at Appomattox.
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
by Eric Foner
Selected as a Notable Book of the Year from the New York Times Book Review, this milestone work The Fiery Trial provides us a definitive account of Lincoln’s lifelong involvement with the country’s crucial issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner, brings Lincoln and the broader history of this interval into perfect equilibrium. The one-volume biographies by David Donald and Richard Carwardine stand out among a long shelf of contenders.
We view Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the energetic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil warfare. Lincoln’s sharp legal mind from his capacity for political and ethical expansion. The Fiery Trial earned the Pulitzer Prize for History. A new Pulitzer Prize-winning and accurate account of President Abraham Lincoln through the politics of abolition.
Battle Cry of Freedom
by James M McPherson
This Pulitzer Prize-winning publication – Battle Cry of Freedom – charts the interval involving the 1846 outbreak of this Mexican-American War into the surrender of Robert E. Lee in 1865. Writer James McPherson assesses the political, economic, and societal aspects that resulted in the Civil War, exceptionally how modest, violent outbursts evolved to America’s deadliest war. In addition, this book also had the greatest combined influence on how historians write about the Civil War and how the American public has learned about it.
Both sides felt they were fighting for liberty although their definitions of liberty differed significantly. With in-depth diagnoses of almost every significant occasion, Battle Cry of Freedom is a crucial addition to any history buff’s collection.
James M McPherson’s grasps of the war’s minutiae are incomprehensible in and of itself. Any other historian with the required skill and enthusiasm to produce a single-volume history of the war that can rival this one in style, depth, and substance is unlikely to emerge anytime soon.
- Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)
The Civil War: A Narrative
by Shelby Foote
From Foote’s three-volume show’s first publication, the writer opens with Jefferson Davis’ resignation in the U.S. Senate. The Democratic politician has been destined for a second, more considerable function: the Confederate States’ first presidency.
So starts a deeply researched account of these events-war-which followed, which culminates in the Union’s success four decades later. Maps are a welcome addition to the fascinating tale, providing helpful graphics of important battle sites and travel channels.
by Ulysses S. Grant
Following Lincoln and Jefferson, Grant was probably the best prose stylist ever to occupy the White House of all people. Several things made Grant a fantastic general made him a fantastic writer, too, especially his capacity to balance the big picture with heaps of information. His descriptions of conflicts proceed almost immediately by minute sometimes. However, he becomes mired in minutiae, and the narrative proceeds with an almost martial pace.
If Grant lacks Lincoln’s rhetorical genius, then he makes up for this as an always uncomplicated stylist that prizes clarity overall.
This Republic of Suffering
by Drew Gilpin Faust
The American Civil War remade lots of approaches but not one so much as the belief on departure. Carnage and slaughter on a grand scale floor down prevailing ideas of the fantastic passing and undercut belief in divine providence.
Several new methods of widespread death emerged from the war, but none more sweeping than the army’s expectations its duty to identify, conserve, and honor the deceased. This is one of these revolutionary histories which explains a critical bit of yesteryear previously disregarded.
by Burke Davis
New York Times bestselling writer Burke Davis pieces collectively numerous eyewitness accounts to place readers in the middle of the infamous “March to the Sea” General William T. Sherman set out to attract the Southern armies of Georgia for their knees, and, together with 65,000 Federal soldiers supporting him, he did just that. After annihilating Atlanta’s town, Sherman proceeded to catch Savannah and crush Georgia and the Carolinas in the hands of his hands as he rode to Virginia.
The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
by Howard Bahr
Best civil war fiction books for reading
Bahr, both a veteran of the war and a novelist, was an expert at Civil War fiction. Fortunately, he also wrote three good books. The Black Flower is the first in his Civil War trilogy and a New York Times Notable Book. A 26-year-old Confederate soldier gets wounded in battle. The bond he makes with a doctor gives him hope for a better, more fulfilling post-war future.
Gawain Harper is a hero in The Year of Jubilo. He only fights for the Confederate army because he loves the woman he loves. When he discovers that rebels are plotting to incite a new war, Harper isn’t as charming home as expected. Gawain must stop this.
The Judas Field is the final book. Civil War veteran Cass travels with a friend to Tennessee to retrieve her father and brother’s bodies. Cass can’t escape the haunting memories of the battlefield as they travel through Southern towns. The violence of war, hope, and the sacrifices made by men and women to get back to loved ones are all explored in the three novels.
Mothers of Invention
by Drew Gilpin Faust
When Confederate men marched off to combat, southern girls fought with all the new responsibilities of leading plantations and farms, providing for households, and supervising increasingly restive slaves.
In Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, Drew Gilpin Faust delivers a clear picture of the greater than half-million girls who belonged to the Confederacy’s slaveholding households through this period of intense crisis when each portion of those women’s lives became uncertain and bemused.
Forged in Battle
by Joseph T. Glatthaar
Sixteen months after the beginning of the American Civil War, the Federal authorities, which significantly simplified the length and labor demands of this war, started to recruit black soldiers. This radical policy gave 180,000 free blacks and former slaves the chance to prove themselves to the battle as part of their United States Colored Troops. From the conclusion of the war, 37,000 within their positions had given their lives for the reason of liberty.
In Forged in War, initially published in 1990, award-winning historian Joseph T. Glatthaar re-creates the occasions which gave these soldiers and their 7,000 white officers exude pride in their contributions to the Union’s success and expectation of equality in the years ahead.
Regrettably, as Glatthaar poignantly shows, the memory of the United States Colored Troops’ epic sacrifices shortly disappeared behind the bias that could irritate the armed forces for a different century.
Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom
by William Craft
In 1848 William and Ellen Craft made among the boldest and remarkable escapes from the USA’s history of slavery. With fair-skinned Ellen at the guise of a white man planter and William posing as her slave, the Crafts traveled by railroad and boat – in plain sight and comparative luxury-out of bondage in Macon, Georgia, to liberty in Philadelphia, then Boston, and finally England.
This variant of the thrilling narrative is newly typeset in the first 1860 text. Eleven annotated supplementary readings, drawn from various contemporary sources, help place the Crafts’ narrative within the intricate cultural currents of transatlantic abolitionism.
Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
by David W. Blight
No historical event has left too profound an imprint on America’s collective memory since the Civil War. From the war’s wake, Americans needed to adopt and throw a traumatic past. David Blight investigates the dangerous path of remembering and forgetting, also shows its tragic prices to race relations and America’s national reunion.
In 1865, faced with a ravaged landscape along with a ripped America, both the North and South started a slow and painful process of reconciliation. The ensuing decades have seen the victory of a reunion civilization, which downplayed sectional division and highlighted the heroics of a struggle between noble men of the Blue and the Gray.
Virtually lost in national culture were the moral crusades over captivity that triggered the war, the existence and participation of African Americans during the war, and the promise of emancipation that arose from the war.
Race and Reunion is a record of how the motto of white America was brought through the rising segregation of white and black memory of the Civil War. Blight delves deeply into the changing significance of sacrifice and death, Reconstruction, the romanticized South of literature, soldiers’ reminiscences of conflict, the Lost Cause concept, and the ritual of Memorial Day.
He resurrects the assortment of African-American memories and voices of this war and the attempts to carry on the emancipationist heritage in the middle of a civilization built on its refusal.
Blight’s sweeping story of tragedy and success, romance and precision, is a compelling narrative of the politics of memory, of the way the country healed from civil warfare without oversight. From the early twentieth century, race and reunion problems were secured in mutual reliance, a debilitating legacy that continues to haunt us now.
by E.L. Doctorow
In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand soldiers through Georgia to the sea, then up to the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces, demolished towns, and gathered a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the dispossessed and the victorious.
In E. L. Doctorow’s hands, the excellent parade becomes a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with remarkable relevance to our times.
Gallman, J. Matthew, is a history professor at the University of Florida. The Bobbie and John Nau Book Prize in American Civil War Era History were awarded to his most recent book, Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front (2105).
The Lost Cause
by Edward Pollard
Among the main functions written about the Civil War came from somebody who did not struggle. In 1867, Edward Pollard, an editor for a Richmond paper, printed The Lost Cause, championing his eponymous publication as a “New Southern background” of this war. Pollard’s work poignantly represented the ideas of unrepentant rebels clinging to his or their ideology.
Pollard explicitly clarified the motivation behind what he termed the “Lost Cause.” Even though the South had lost the Civil War, he also contended that the South could wage and win the “war of ideas” Conceding the South’s loss supposed “recovery of the marriage along with the excision of captivity,” Pollard was defiant, writing that “the war didn’t pick Negro equality.”
The Killer Angels
by Michael Shaara
Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book recreates the bloodiest conflict in American history: Gettysburg. Within the four days of fighting, millions of men expired – guys with families, guys with futures, guys who have achieved amazing things for the country. Shaara supposes who these guys, whether Southern or Northern States, may happen to be.
Told through numerous historical characters’ viewpoints, the narrative starts with an extremely confident Robert E. Lee as he and his troops travel to Pennsylvania. But rather than finding the success, they pictured, Lee and his fellow Confederates are demoralized from the struggle – and lots of knows they are not likely to win against the war or perhaps see war’s end.
Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
If you’d access the Turner Classic Movie channel, then you have probably heard of the movie version of Gone with the Wind. However, before Vivien Leigh surfaced as Scarlett O’Hara, Margaret Mitchell’s epic book delivers a more thorough look at Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
Of course, in the middle is Scarlett-a Southern belle and the daughter of a wealthy planter-that is forced to change her spoiled many ways once warfare divides the nation. Although her enduring relationship with Rhett Butler is considered among the best love stories of all time, the publication is also among the most remarkable portraits of war’s consequences on a location and its people.
Confederates in the Attic
by Tony Horwitz
When prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz leaves Bosnia’s battlefields and the Middle East for a peaceful corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he thinks he’s put war zones behind him. But awakened one morning by the crackle of musket fire, Horwitz starts filing front-line dispatches again, this time from a war close to home and also to his heart.
Propelled by his boyhood passion for the Civil War, Horwitz embarks on a search for places and people still held in thrall by America’s most significant sectional conflict. The outcome is a venture into the unvanquished South’s soul, where the ghosts of the Lost Cause are resurrected through ritual and remembrance.
In Virginia, Horwitz joins a band of hardcore’ reenactors that crash-diet to attain the hollow-eyed look of starved Confederates; at Kentucky, he witnesses Klan rallies and calls for race war sparked by the killing of a white man who brandishes a rebel flag.
In Andersonville, he finds that the prison’s commander, executed as a war criminal, is now exalted as a martyr and hero; and also at the book’s climax, Horwitz takes a marathon trek from Antietam to Gettysburg to Appomattox in the company of Robert Lee Hodge. This eccentric pilgrim dubs their odyssey as the civil Wargasm.
Written with Horwitz’s signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, Confederates in the Attic brings alive old battlefields and new ones ‘classrooms, courts, country bars’ where the past and the present collide, often in explosive ways. Poignant and picaresque, haunting and hilarious, it speaks to anyone who’s ever felt drawn to the mythic South and the dark romance of the Civil War.
The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861
by David Morris Potter
In a new edition for its 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, David Potter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of antebellum America Provides an indispensable evaluation of the causes of the war between the countries.
The Journal of Southern History calls Potter’s sequential account “contemporary scholarship’s most extensive report of the arrival of the Civil War,” along with the New York Times Book Review hails it as “profound and first… History from the grand tradition.
The Life of Johnny Reb
by Bell Irvin Wiley
Yes, I’m cheating by choosing two novels, but these two are almost intertwined. In the context of Civil War soldiers, Wiley virtually established social history. In 2018, Johnny Reb will celebrate its diamond anniversary, and it is still the go-to source for information about Confederate soldiers daily lives and routines.
The Destructive War
by Charles Royster
By the moment that the Civil War started, partisans on either side were calling for success and extermination. And the two sides found leaders who’d oblige. In this vibrant and fearfully persuasive publication, Charles Royster appears at William Tecumseh Sherman and Stonewall Jackson, the guys who came to Celebrate the apocalyptic pursuits of North and South re-creates their personalities, their plans, and the feelings they motivated in their countrymen.
At once, an incisive dual biography, hypnotically engrossing military background, and also a cautionary examination of the American penchant for patriotic bloodshed, The Destructive War is a work of tremendous power.
Lee’s Lieutenants (1942–1944)
by Douglas Southall Freeman
Despite his affiliation with the remembrance of the Lost Cause, Freeman was a Civil War military pioneer. Unlike Wiley, who concentrated on the average soldier, Freeman looked at the Army of Northern Virginia and its chain of command from the top-down, shedding new insight on how the army functioned as a hierarchical entity.
Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
by Stephen W. Sears
This is, without a doubt, the best book ever published about anyone Civil War fight. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, headed by Robert E. Lee, fought in Maryland with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, led by George B. McClellan, on Sept. 17, 1862, in what would turn out to be the single deadliest day in American history.
Company Aytch (1882)
by Sam Watkins
My pupils are frequently shocked to learn that a Civil War American could be amusing. But Sam Watkins determines to cut through the romanticization of his fellow 1880s memoirists and get the “real war”—the drilling, killing, and shooting—into the good books that make his account of his time as a private in Co. H, 1st Tennessee Infantry, through Shiloh and Chickamauga, the most poignant.
- Watkins, Sam R. (Author)
Mary Chesnut’s Diary
by Mary Chesnut
Mary Chesnut, a native of South Carolina, kept an extensive account of her life as a woman of the upper classes. Mary hated slavery even though her husband was a Senator and a Confederate Officer. Chesnut’s diary contains many firsthand accounts, including her thoughts on seeing the first shots in Charleston and hearing portions of her husband’s meetings.
Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South
by Stephanie McCurry
This book is truly original. This book offers a fresh perspective on the Confederacy, looking beyond elected representatives and other traditional areas of political history. Stephanie points out that 12 million people lived in the Confederate States, and only 2,000,000 of these were consulted on secession through elections or representation. Other 10 million Southerners, which included women and enslaved, were not consulted.
Cold Mountain (1997)
by Charles Frazier
Inman can reach his true love Ada in North Carolina with no obstacles, not even war. Inman, severely wounded in one battle, deserts the Confederate Army, determined to find his wife. Ada struggles to bring her father’s farm back from the brink of destruction as he travels across America. Ada and Inman have put their hopes on a silly dream with only a few moments of conversation between them.
by Geraldine Brooks
Amy Murrell Taylor
I love novels that reveal the stories behind famous characters. This story of the father’s heartbreaking experiences as he leaves behind his “Little Women” when he becomes an army chaplain exemplifies this genre. His experiences in battle, at a contraband camp, and in the hospital, I won’t spoil what he does, function as a Civil War narrative in its own right and as a way to add texture to the original text.
The North and South Trilogy
by John Jakes
John Jakes, the author of the trilogy that has been sold in millions, examines the ways war can destroy even the most intimate bonds. Orry Mains, a Southerner, quickly makes friends with George Hazard while training at West Point. When the Civil War puts them on opposite sides of the battlefields, tensions reverberate throughout their relationship, their families, and the rest of Jakes’s bestselling trilogy. The books were adapted to a wildly successful miniseries, starring Patrick Swayze, James Read and containing both war stories and family drama.
- Jakes, John (Author)
Other Civil War Books Considered:
- Eric Foner, Reconstruction (1988)
- David Herbert Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered
- Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox (1953)
- Robert Hicks, Widow of the South (2005)
- Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth (2009)
- Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber, eds., Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War (1992)
Have you read some of those best books about the Civil War that we’ve covered? Did you like them? Alternately, have you got some suggestions for books which people can include? Penn Book‘s eager to hear your view, so do feel free to talk about your ideas with us in the comments.
Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API