Monthly Archives: February 2021

New and forthcoming Rev War books of note

The TBR stacks keep getting higher. Here are a few Rev War titles to add to your list, if you haven’t put them there already.

  • Back in 2019 I directed your attention to a forthcoming book on Banastre Tarleton. It looks like it’s coming out this summer. This is a Savas Beatie title by two authors who’ve done good work on militia from the South Carolina backcountry. Definitely looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this. And if you’re a fellow Tarleton buff, hold your (dragoon) horses, because…
  • …Westholme just published a study of Tarleton’s British Legion by John Knight. Looks like a major reappraisal of the green-coated Tories who battled their way through the South, and most welcome.
  • Speaking of the Southern Campaign, Westholme is really spoiling us Carolina aficionados. To the End of the World is a new examination of the Race to the Dan River by Andrew Waters.
  • Donald Johnson’s Occupied America looks at the ways civilians navigated British military rule in Revolutionary cities, and the effect of occupation on allegiances. I’ve long been interested in civilian experiences during the Rev War, so I’m excited about this one.
  • Robert Parkinson’s Thirteen Clocks, due out in May, makes a case for racial fear as a critical factor in the movement toward independence. Parkinson has already written acclaimed scholarship on the role of race in the making of the Revolution, and I suspect this new book is one we’ll be talking about for quite some time.

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Civil War bibliophilia

Over at the Savas Beatie blog, Mark Wade reflects on his hobby of Civil War book collecting:

If you take the time, really take the time, to appreciate the physical books you discover each has its own personality. Like your kids, they look different, and speak to you differently. Getting shelves to organize and display them is a real pleasure. They are part of you and your home. You leave notes inside some, bookmark certain locations.

They become old friends. When I have a spare hour I often crack one open and reread an Introduction or Conclusion. It’s like picking up the phone and calling someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time. You know the saying “A home without books is like a person without a soul.” Truth. 

After a while—and it doesn’t take long—you begin to have favorites. Mine are my first editions written by Maryland veterans. And I love seeing them out. While I enjoy hitting the battlefields with good friends, I really loved visiting a good used bookstore or going to a Civil War Book and Relic show to search for titles to build my collection. I traded books there for others, bought and sold some, and really got to know the market.

A lot of you folks would probably agree with those sentiments. We history buffs tend to be book lovers, since (to paraphrase Lincoln) the things we want to know are in books. One of the things I’m looking forward to doing when this pandemic is under control is visiting my favorite used bookstore in Knoxville.

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Support the University Press of Kansas and treat yourself to a book

Here’s some alarming news about a fine academic publisher:

The University Press of Kansas wrote to its authors this week to say that its trustees “have initiated an independent review to propose direction for the press’s future amid significant financial challenges.” Richard Clement, former dean of the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences at the University of New Mexico, was hired as an external consultant to complete that review by March 1. “The trustees will then decide how or if the press will continue to operate,” the note sai

This is especially worrisome for readers of military history, since Kansas is one of the best presses in the field. But they put out darn fine Civil War, Western, and presidential history books, too.

Might I suggest ordering one or more of their titles? Think of it as an opportunity to treat yourself to a good read while supporting a worthy cause. Here are a few of my favorites that I’d recommend to any history buff:

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Hal Holbrook on playing Lincoln

The acclaimed actor passed away late last month at the age of 95. He played the 16th president in a TV adaptation of Carl Sandburg’s biography, in the miniseries North & South, and in a revival of Sherwood’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois. More recently, he made a memorable appearance as Francis Preston Blair, Sr. in Spielberg’s Lincoln–a darn fine performance in a movie chock full of darn fine performances.

Here are Holbrook’s own (mildly NSFW) reflections on his Lincoln portrayals.

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