New Civil War Books

The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War is wrapping up this year and with it comes new scholarship on a myriad of topics. The Filson has collected several new books for the collection suitable for background research, fact finding, and general enjoyable reading. I have selected five books for this post that to me represent the diversity of topics from both independent and academic scholars.

Two books of national scope cover Sherman's March and Reconstruction. Anne Sarah Rubin's book from the University of North Carolina Press, "Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory," provides us with a story of the "metaphorical importance of Sherman's March to Americans' memory of the Civil War". Mark Wahlgren Summers delivered "The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction" in 2014, also from the UNC Press. He shares a more national view of Reconstruction's successes and failures, while presenting the groundwork laid for our current emancipation experiences.

The last three books I chose demonstrate the vast untapped stories of Kentucky's unique war experience. Berry Craig's book, "Kentucky Confederates," (University Press of Kentucky), delves into the region of the Jackson Purchase, comprising eight western counties in Kentucky, which drew eight times more men to the Confederacy than to the Union. His explanation of why this occurred is just one of the untold stories about Kentucky in the Civil War. Gary R. Matthews,  in his book "More American than Southern: Kentucky, Slavery, and the War for an American Ideology, 1828-1861." (University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville), provides us with the "first comprehensive examination of Kentucky's secession crisis in nearly ninety years."Embattled Capital Cover_WEB

The final book I selected is one that The Filson is especially proud to present. Those of you who attended the Civil War Symposium last October have heard of it, and listened to author Jim Pritchard speak about it. "Embattled Capital: Frankfort Kentucky in the Civil War," (Frankfort Heritage Press) was written by one of our own staff members. Jim works in our Library and Special Collections Department when not in author mode. His book shares the unique experiences of the citizens of occupied Frankfort, Kentucky at a time when the slightest rumor could cause turmoil and violence, affecting the lives of each resident, soldier, and visitor. It is a moving and human story that resonates with readers in today's tumultuous circumstances.

The Filson is proud to be a resource center for those conducting Civil War research.  In 2014, nearly 15% of researchers to the Special Collections Department were researching a topic related to the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Our longest-running researcher was Edward Blum, Associate Professor of History at San Diego State University, who won a four week Breaux fellowship to conduct research on his manuscript, “Satan and the Civil War: Tales from the Dark Side of Faith in America."  Please contact us to find out more about how our collections can assist you with your own research projects!


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