Sunday, April 1, 2012

Any Civil War Fiction Recommendations?

I have been thinking recently of trying to add some Civil War-related fiction into my reading, to help expand my perspective on the perception and "image" of the war.

A couple of months ago, I did read a modern novel called March as part of a program at a local library. I also read some bits and pieces of other works in an anthology for that program and with my fairly recent introduction to the concept of Civil War memory, I am starting to wonder what I am missing by having read so little fiction over the years. Is there more to be learned or gained from reading that style of writing? Creating A Confederate Kentucky offered a couple of examples of works of fiction that reflected the feelings of many Kentuckians about the state's role in the war. Such books may not create imagery or memory of the war, but if they reflect what people feel, is it important to try to understand those reflections?

I have never read a lot of fiction or historical fiction. In college, I did read Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Killer Angels and enjoyed both. I am thinking about one of those as a possibility, though admittedly Stowe's work is not technically a Civil War book. Would re-reading these be worth it? That was over 15 years ago, so I certainly would have a different approach upon re-reading those then I did so long ago.

Red Badge of Courage is a famous book that I've never read, yet have heard is a very good book. Maybe I should find a copy of it and add that to the list of ones I have read.

I do have a book of short stories written by Ambrose Bierce and I did read some excerpts from him in the anthology mentioned above.

What other such books should I consider, either older books, such as late nineteenth century, or even more modern novels like March? Are there any "must reads" or classics that I'm not aware of or am forgetting? I think I'll still focus mostly on non-fiction, but maybe adding at least an occasional bit of variety into my reading can give me a wider perspective not just on the war, but on how it is portrayed and remembered as well.

7 comments:

  1. In his short story collection Children and Others, James Gould Cozzens a novelist who mainly focused on his contemporaries, has two great Civil War short stories - Men Running and One Hundred Ladies. The first is about a New Jersey unit heading towards the battle of Bull Run and the latter is about a veteran travelling to attend a unit reunion.

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  2. Thank you. I'll definitely make a note about that one

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  3. Richard--Sorry I am just getting around to this comment now. Life's been crazy the last few days. I have heard that "Woe to Live On" by Daniel Woodrell is a good read. It covers the irregular war in Kansas and Missouri. I first learned about it when Anthony Bourdain did a show on the Ozarks, and hung out with the author. I haven't read it yet, but maybe you will, and can let us know how it is! Hope this helps.

    Here is the link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Woe-Live-On-Daniel-Woodrell/dp/0671001361/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1C93SBTBS08VP&colid=1Q3JPW3JH7ND

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    1. Thanks - I'll definitely check that one out.

      If you're anything like me, you catch up on reading a few blogs, yet then have even more the next day.

      It's funny you posted this last night as I did just get another book in the mail today, but another non-fiction one to add to the stack. I hope I'm not being too ambitious :)

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    2. Do let us know how it is if you manage to read it! (I may catch the movie adapted from the book. It's available "On Demand" now.) I am so far behind on my blog readings. Google Reader reminds me of when I used to get the Economist. It would pile up, one issue after another, until I was so stressed that I'd never get through it! I love to read, but hard to get to all the Civil War books, magazines, and blogs when I only get about 2 hrs free time per day. In 2010, before the kids were born, I got through dozens. Now I average about one a month if I am lucky. Oh well--there is always retirement in 30-some years!

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  4. If you are interested in fiction related to that era, perhaps you would like to try my trilogy. From These Ashes by TE Reynolds. This novel was an eye opener for me when I researched Part III, the reconstruction. I realized how little the average American knows about this pivotal time in history.

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  5. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll add it to my list and try to check it out when I can

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