Monday, October 13, 2014

A Few Book Summaries

Here are a few other books I read in spring and summer. I enjoyed them all, but didn't take notes to do full reviews, but will add a few thoughts on each.

Co. Aytch by Sam Watkins
This book, made famous by Ken Burns' PBS series on the Civil War, was recommended to me when I was on a public hike at Perryville and imam glad I finally read it. It is a fun read, with good descriptions of what Watkins saw at many battles, including Perryville, where some of his lines are on museum displays and are commonly repeated in other books about that battle. It is Watkins' story, written tests after the war, so keep in mind how human memory works when writing so long after an event, but it is still an enjoyable read and a good look at what private soldiers in that wsr witnessed.

The Battle of Mill Springs Kentucky by Stuart Sanders
I still have not visited this battlefield, and am almost ashamed by that. This is a good book from the History Press and gave me a lot of good information on this early Union victory. I like how the author writes, as I also enjoyed his works on Perryville as well as this one. It is a good read

Lincoln's Melancholy:  How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness
By Joshua Wolf Schenk
I had heard about this work years who, but never got around to reading it. I am glad I finally did. I found it to be a fascinating look at another side of  Lincoln's life and personality. His moodiness was not a new revelation to me, but it's depth and how often Lincoln struggled with it did add to my knowledge and perspective of this man. The Sutton seemed to have a good grade of psychological concepts and explained them in easy to understand ways.

Morgan's Great Raid: the Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio by David Mowery
This is not a long look at the details of every confrontation during this 1863 raid, but is a good overview of the emtire raid and provides a nice look at how much ground Morgan, his men and his pursuers covered during these weeks. Mowery's writing is easy yo follow and I enjoyed how he described the challenges that those in and against the raid faced. 

Liddell's  Record by St. John Richardson Liddell, edited by Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr.
If you like honest and blunt assessments from soldiers, this is a book you should read. Hughes Jr. cobbled together Liddell's records and molded them into a fine story in Liddell's own words. Like the Watkins book, this was written after the war, but is still a valuable read due to Liddell's honest accounts of battles and Confederate leaders he experienced or encountered during the war? He was not afraid to offer criticism of his superiors. He was another fascinating character I am glad I discovered. He may not be in the same class as Daniel Sickles in terms of being a "different" personality,, but is still another interesting individual, though not very well-known.

1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Bracelen Flood
I found this book when looking for additional sources for my upcoming(January 8, 2015) talk on Abraham Lincoln, and I am fortunate to have found it. It offers a terrific account of what proved to be perhaps the most important year of the Civil War, and how Lincoln dealt with the many issues, including his re-election, that popped up throughout these 12 months. I found several new ideas and thoughts to incorporate into my talk, and a few details as well. It is a well-written, easy-to-read book about a crucial year.

Decided  on the Battlefield: Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and the Election of 1864 by David Alan Johnson
This is another book I found to help me understand the happenings of 1864 and it was another valuable reference. It focuses on the presidential election of 1864 and how battlefield events influenced the results of that voting. It is another well-written narrative and look at the last full calendar year of the war. This is another fine book.

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