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Best Civil War Books

Delve into the defining moments of American history through these essential Civil War books, as acclaimed by leading literary publications and history experts.

Recommendations from 48 articles, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, J. K. Rowling and 36 others.
Best Civil War Books
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Battle Cry of Freedom book cover
Battle Cry of Freedom
The Civil War Era
James M. McPherson - 2003-12-11 (first published in 1988)
Goodreads Rating
This riveting history of the Civil War dives into the political, social, and military events that led up to the war and the battles, personalities, and politics that shaped it. With fresh interpretations and insights, the author challenges old myths and sheds light on new ones. The book touches on topics such as the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, and the North's eventual adoption of a policy of emancipation. Through this fast-paced narrative, readers will gain a deep understanding of this transformative period in American history.
The Killer Angels book cover
The Killer Angels
The Classic Novel of the Civil War (Civil War Trilogy)
Michael Shaara - 1987-08-12 (first published in 1974)
Goodreads Rating
Experience the battle for America's destiny in this unforgettable story of two armies fighting for their dreams. In the midst of bloodshed and bullets, memories, promises, love, shattered futures, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty also fall. Get ready to witness a dramatic re-creation of one of the most courageous and significant events of our nation's history in The Killer Angels.
The Civil War book cover
The Civil War
A Narrative
Shelby Foote - 1986-11-12 (first published in 1958)
Goodreads Rating
Experience the Civil War like never before in this remarkable narrative. From epic battles like Bull Run and Antietam to smaller clashes at Ball's Bluff and Island Ten, this comprehensive work covers it all. But what sets it apart is the engaging storytelling style that puts you in the shoes of those who lived through the conflict. With exhaustive research from the author, this first volume is a must-read for history buffs and anyone interested in America's bloodiest war.
This Republic of Suffering book cover
This Republic of Suffering
Death and the American Civil War (Vintage Civil War Library)
Drew Gilpin Faust - 2008-01-08
Goodreads Rating
This book explores the impact of the American Civil War's massive death toll on both individuals and the nation as a whole. Through the voices of soldiers, families, leaders, and more, Drew Gilpin Faust reveals how the unprecedented scale of loss challenged practical and religious beliefs. An illuminating and poignant read.
A Stillness at Appomattox book cover
A Stillness at Appomattox
Bruce Catton - 1990-08-01 (first published in 1951)
Goodreads Rating
Take a deep dive into the final year of the Civil War with this Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book. Discover the dramatic events leading up to the Confederate surrender and gain new insight into the tactics behind the Army of the Potomac. A must-read for history buffs!
The Fiery Trial book cover
The Fiery Trial
Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
Eric Foner - 2010-10-04
Goodreads Rating
Explore Lincoln's lifelong fight against American slavery in this definitive account of his pragmatic principles and political navigation. Master historian Eric Foner expertly balances Lincoln's personal journey with the broader history of the period, highlighting the president's unparalleled capacity for moral and political growth.
A Diary from Dixie book cover
A Diary from Dixie
Mary Boykin Chesnut - 1997-03-25 (first published in 1905)
Goodreads Rating
Explore an intimate perspective of the Civil War through the eyes of author Mary Boykin Chesnut. In her personal diary, Chesnut reflects on the conversations and events of this pivotal time in American history, shedding light on the oppression faced by women during this period. As the wife of a Confederate general and a member of elite Southern society, Chesnut had a unique position to observe and comment on the politics of the time. Her sharp wit and irreverent attitude make her diary a fascinating read and an important historic document.
Gone With the Wind book cover
Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell - 1999-04-01 (first published in 1936)
Goodreads Rating
A stunning Southern belle's world is turned upside down by the Civil War in this epic tale. Scarlett O'Hara, daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, must navigate poverty, love affairs, and her own resilience after the devastation of Sherman's March to the Sea.
Team of Rivals book cover
Team of Rivals
The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin - 2006-09-26 (first published in 2005)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the inspiring leadership techniques of one of America's greatest presidents with this bestselling and award-winning book. Team of Rivals is a thrilling narrative history that shows how Abraham Lincoln saved America by appointing his fiercest rival to key cabinet positions. This book was so impactful that it inspired Barack Obama during his presidency. Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of the most acclaimed non-fiction authors, presents a compelling portrait of Lincoln as a virtuosic politician and managerial genius.
Confederates in the Attic book cover
Confederates in the Attic
Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
Tony Horwitz - 1999-02-22 (first published in 1998)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the soul of the unvanquished South in this poignant and picaresque adventure into America's greatest conflict. Follow prize-winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz on a search for places and people still held in thrall by the ghosts of the Lost Cause. Witness Klan rallies, hardcore reenactors, and bizarre Civil War pilgrimages in a journey that collides the past and the present in explosive and hilarious ways. Written with Horwitz's signature blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism, this book speaks to anyone drawn to the mythic South and the dark romance of the Civil War.
Landscape Turned Red by Stephen W. Sears
Race and Reunion by David W. Blight
Searching for Black Confederates by Kevin M. Levin
Marching Home by Brian Matthew Jordan
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
March by Geraldine Brooks
Final Resting Places by Brian Matthew Jordan, Jonathan W. White, David W. Blight, Edward L. Ayers, William Davis, Douglas R. Egerton, Barbara Gannon, Hilary Green, Anna Gibson Holloway, Caroline E. Janney, Michelle Krowl, Barton A. Myers, Terry Alford, Melodie Andrews, Danalisa Deanne Blanton, Michael Burlingame, John M. Coski, Michael Gray, Allen Carl Guelzo, Vitor Izecksohn, Glenn W. Lafantasie, Jennifer M. Murray, Timothy J. Orr, Chris Phillips, Mark S. Schantz, Dana Shoaf, Walter B. Stahr, Michael Vorenberg, Ronald C. White, Katherine Reynolds Chaddock, Stephen D. Engle
North and South by John Jakes
Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears
Mr Lincoln S Army by Bruce Catton
1861 by Adam Goodheart
Sherman's March by Burke Davis
The Civil War by D.K. Publishing
Out of the House of Bondage by Thavolia Glymph
Mary Chesnut's Civil War by Mary Chesnut
Longstreet by Elizabeth Varon
Of Age by Frances M. Clarke, Rebecca Jo Plant
Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
The Destructive War by Charles Royster
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
No Right to an Honest Living by Jacqueline Jones
I Dread the Thought of the Place by D. Scott Hartwig
On a Great Battlefield by Jennifer M. Murray
The Army under Fire by Cecily N. Zander, T. Michael Parrish
Conflict of Command by George C. Rable, T. Michael Parrish
Beloved by Toni Morrison
What Was the Underground Railroad? by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Grant by Ron Chernow
Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne
Who Was Harriet Tubman? by Yona Zeldis McDonough
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Company Aytch or a Side Show of the Big Show by Sam R. Watkins
Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman
This Hallowed Ground by Bruce Catton
Vicksburg by Donald L. Miller
Grant and Sherman by Charles Bracelen Flood
The Gettysburg Campaign by Edwin B. Coddington
For Cause and Comrades by James M. McPherson
The Confederacy's Last Hurrah by Wiley Sword
What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? by Jim O'Connor
A Picture of Freedom by Patricia C. McKissack
Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom by William and Ellen Craft
Grace by Natashia Deon
The Life of Johnny Reb by Bell Irvin Wiley
Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens
Perryville by Kenneth W. Noe
Grierson's Raid by D. Alexander Brown
The Alligators of Abraham by Robert Kloss
Calamity at Frederick by Alexander B. Rossino
Lincoln Reconsidered by David Donald
Contrasts in Command by Victor Vignola
Radical Warrior by David Dixon
Tempest over Texas by Donald S. Frazier
General David S. Stanley, USA by Dennis W. Belcher
Confederate Privateer by William C. Harris
Patriots Twice by Stephen M. Hood
Mothers of Invention by Drew Gilpin Faust
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus
The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
They Fought Like Demons by De Anne Blanton
The March by E. L. Doctorow
The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Passing by Nella Larsen
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott
When Will This Cruel War Be Over? by Barry Denenberg
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
To Antietam Creek by D. Scott Hartwig
I Saw Death Coming by Kidada E. Williams
Continental Reckoning by Elliott West
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Reconstruction by Eric Foner
The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 by David M. Potter
Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant
Sweet Taste of Liberty by W. Caleb McDaniel
Autumn of Glory by Thomas Lawrence Connelly
In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Edward L. Ayers
Army of the Heartland by Thomas Lawrence Connelly
Confederates from Canada by Ralph Lindeman
Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe