The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research

By Robin Higham; Steven E. Woodworth | Go to book overview
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Foreword James M. McPherson

Nobody knows how many books and articles have been published on the Civil War during the past 130 years. The number approaches six figures and continues to grow at an astonishing rate. In recent years other media have jumped onto the Civil War bandwagon: films, videos, CD-ROMS, and other nonprint materials, including live reenactments of Civil War battles and living history demonstrations. Despite the high-tech entry into the Civil War field, books and articles will undoubtedly remain the best way to learn about this defining event in American history.

The huge number of writings about all aspects of the Civil War is a mixed blessing. No one, not even the most studious of experts, can keep up with the literature in the field. The beginner is overwhelmed and scarcely knows where to start; the seasoned scholar courts a severe case of burn-out trying to stay on top of the subject. But we need lament no more. This splendid collection of bibliographical essays comes to the rescue. It provides a clear and comprehensive guide to every conceivable topic and subtopic in writings about the Civil War--and films, videos, and music as well.

The great virtues of this book are coverage and precision. Several thousand titles are cited and their contents summarized in more than forty essays, each by an expert on the specific subject covered in the essay. No topic is overlooked. Students interested in military campaigns, battles, and leadership can turn to Parts VII and VIII. Those who wish to learn about politics will go to Part IV. Social conditions on the home front are covered in Part IX. There are essays on economic developments, diplomacy, medicine, the Constitution, slavery, emancipation, the causes of the war, and its consequences. The Contents and

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