Shared booklist

Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1846-1877

This booklist is taken from a course taught by David Blight of Yale University that explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction. You can download the lectures of Professor Blight for free from the internet.

17 items

Half slave and half free

Bruce Levine ; consulting editor, Eric Foner. |

Levine argues that the Civil War was an irrepressible conflict due to two different social structures in the north and south. Another book, adding even more layers to the argument, is What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe.

Apostles of disunion

Charles B. Dew. |

Dew's short book examines the arguments of the leading proponents for secession to understand the causes of the Civil War.

Mothers of invention

Drew Gilpin Faust. |

Faust's other book about Death in the Civil War is better than this one - but Blight loved the spotlight on Southern plantation mistresses as provide understanding for the causes and continuance of the war.

The march

E.L. Doctorow. |

Doctorow's novel on Sherman's march from Atlanta to the sea, then north from Savannah, includes extracts taken from Sherman's memoirs to add historical validity to Doctorow's story of everyday people involved in the march.

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave

written by himself ; introduction by Peter J. Gomes. |

Other important slave narratives were written by Solomon Northup, William Wells Brown, Soujourner Truth, and Josiah Henson. My favorite is Twelve Years a Slave by Northup, but teacher's like to use this book because of other writings by Douglass as a free man.

Battle cry of freedom

James McPherson. |

McPherson's story of the Civil War serves as background reading for the course, which generally assumes that you've already covered much of the material here in a high school American History course.

Hospital sketches.

Edited by Bessie Z. Jones. |

Florence Nightengale formed the first corps of organized nurses, but the American Civil War went even further. Alcott's story of her everyday experiences as a nurse illustrate that the war was not just experienced by the soldiers.

Abraham Lincoln, slavery, and the Civil War

edited by Michael P. Johnson. |

Redemption

Nicholas Lemann. |

The Confederate War

Gary W. Gallagher. |

Gallagher argues that the South fought the Civil War using every available resource, but they were just overcome by northern industrial and manpower superiority.

The killer angels

Michael Shaara ; maps by Don Pitcher. |

Blight replaced this novel with The March by Doctorow in later versions of this class, but one can't go wrong with reading Shaara's novel abotu Gettysburg, which inspired Ken Burns to produce his series on the Civil War.

The Civil War.

a production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV ; producers, Ken Burns and Ric Burns ; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns ; director, Ken Burns. |

The Civil War.

a production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV ; American Documentary ; Time-Life Video ; producers, Ken Burns and Ric Burns ; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns. |

The Civil War.

a production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV ; American Documentary ; Time-Life Video ; producers, Ken Burns, Ric Burns ; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns, Ken Burns. |

The Civil War.

a production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV ; American Documentary ; Time-Life Video ; producers, Ken Burns, Ric Burns ; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns, Ken Burns. |

The Civil War.

a production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV ; producers, Ken Burns and Ric Burns ; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Ric Burns and Ken Burns. |