Bob’s Books – Shelfie #10 (The US Civil War)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #10 (The US Civil War)

It’s installment number ten in Bob’s Books Shelfie series. Links to the prior shelfie posts can be found at the end of this one. If you’re new to this column, I posted shelfies of over a thousand of my books, in the r/bookshelf subreddit. The mods got too annoying for me, and I quit the group. I already did a post with my shelves related to the American Constitutional Convention of 1787 and that Era. I’m a man of many layers – you just have to keep peeling the onion. I’m also a big US Civil War buff – especially the ironclad battle at Hampton Roads.


I’ve got three shelves of a pretty nice US Civil War collection. This is the main ‘general’ shelf.

I like map books of CW battlefields, and I’ve got two on the left. Plus that floppy one laying across the top.

The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War is a nice-looking, slipcase set. Kind of like CW coffee table books. Thick ones…

Those three blue ones are part of a six-volume Battle Chronicles of the Civil War, edited by James McPherson. McPherson (whose classic one-volume history is at the end of this shelf) is one of America’s finest ever CW historians. If I didn’t own so many books not yet read, I’d get the other three of these. Neat series.

The Time Life book is a cool one-volume overview of the war.

The Battle of Hampton Roads is my main interest area, and you’ll see quite a few naval books in the next shelf. These two are tall, so they moved up here.

Shelby Foote’s three-volume classic was my first major dive into a complete history of the CW. Really detailed, and rather slow reading, but remains a terrific reference.

The Battles and Leaders of the Civil War is some tough going. It consists of a boatload of primary sources from the War. This is as authentic as anything I’ve ever found. But it reads the way you’d expect of stuff from the 1800s.

There are several good CW writers. But McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom is a tough one to beat for a single-volume history. I was gifted another copy of this version, which is falling apart. But it has his autograph on it.



Yesterday saw the first of my three Civil war shelves. When I was a kid, the children’s insert in our local Sunday paper once talked about the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac.
I was fascinated, and I can trace my interest in the Civil War back to that. And I remain interested in the Battle of Hampton Roads to the this day I even wrote a screenplay about it!

Seven of the nine books to the left are about the two ironclads in that fight. I will read anything I find on them. The other two are about ironclads in general.

Davis’ Duel Between the First Ironclads was my first book on the subject, and holds a special place for me.

I got something out of all of them.

Another half dozen books about naval matters follow. Interesting stuff if you like the subject matter.

That red book is Catton’s Army of the Potomac Trilogy in one volume. That’s some REALLY good CW reading.

I like daily almanac/calendars, and that’s a neat one next to it.

Stephen Sears’ writing style is very readable.

That Antietam Campaign is part of the Great Campaigns series, which covers non-CW stuff too. Really good reads. Not too deep, and not too light. Solid books about their titles. I’ve got a couple, and would like some more.

I like Ferguson’s book on Chancellorsville.

The ‘Don’t Know Much About…’ series are neat books. I like the Civil War one shown here.

The Civil War Years is a terrific resource. The Monitor and Merrimac books are the heart of my CW collection, and I really like this shelf.



I’m into Gettysburg – fascinating topic. I’ve got about a dozen on this shelf, and I’d read more books on it if I had unlimited time.

I think Pfanz’s book is the most readable of the ‘single day’ ones on this shelf. Wert’s follows next.

I mentioned the Great Campaigns series in the prior shelf. I really enjoy these books, and this Gettysburg one is good.

Michael Stackpole’s book is pretty good.

The movie Gettysburg was based on Michael Shaara’s terrific novel. His son’s follow-ups were good. I LOVE the film.

Another Bruce Catton book, to go with the big one on the shelfie above.

Eric Wittenberg may be America’s foremost Civil War cavalry expert, and I have a few of his as e-books. Highly recommended.

Next week, I start a three-part series on Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series. Make sure you swing by!


Bob’s Books – Shelfie #1 (Sherlock Holmes #1)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #2 (Sherlock Holmes #2)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #3 (Constitutional Convention of 1787)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #4 (Thieves World, Heroes in Hell)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #5 (REH, Moorcock, Kurtz)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #6 (Cook, LeGuin, Gygax, Hardy, Hendee, Flint, Smith, McKillip)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #7 (Sherlock Holmes #3)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #8 (McKiernan, Watt-Evans, Leiber, Bischoff, Rosenberg)

Bob’s Books – Shelfie #9 (Hillerman, Monk)

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Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.

His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.

He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series. Which is now part of THE DEFINITIVE guide to Conan. He also organized 2023’s ‘Talking Tolkien.’

He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI, XXI, and XXXIII.

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Thomas Parker

D.S. Freeman’s massive Lee’s Lieutenants (essentially a history of the Army of Northern Virginia) is well worth reading. I would also recommend The Destructive War by Charles Royster. A study of the war’s increasing violence through an examination of the careers of Jackson and Sherman, it’s one of the best books about the war I’ve ever read.

Eugene R.

Bruce Catton’s Civil War as a title for his Army of the Potomac trilogy, when he wrote another trilogy that covers the war, is the kind of confusion that would annoy me enough to avoid picking up the book. Unless it was a really good bargain, of course.

My favorite map book is David Greenspan’s Battle Maps of the Civil War, which excerpts his “bird’s eye view” maps from Catton’s American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War. Just love following the course of each battle via the tiny figures holding the Bloody Angle or storming the heights of Missionary Ridge.


Wert’s From Winchester to Cedar Creek is one of my favorites, although I think Peter Cozzens is our best CW writer. His books on Western Theater battles are epic.

We may have gotten the prolific novelist Michael Stackpole mixed up with historian Edward J. Stackpole.

Thomas Parker

I second the Peter Cozzens recommendation, and another great book is Pickett’s Charge by George R. Stewart (Earth Abides), a minute-by-minute history of Gettysburg’s climax. It seems to me to have heavily influenced Shaara’s Killer Angels, even down to some of Shaara’s wording exactly replicating Stewart’s. It’s always surprised me that no one has ever made a big deal of that…

Last edited 1 month ago by Thomas Parker
Thomas Parker

Oh, I see it now. Poor Pickett – overlooked by Lee and now by me…

John E. Boyle

I also recommend just about anything from Peter Cozzens. His books on the Western Theatre are classics.

Thomas Parker

ANOTHER great book (Civil War books are like peanuts – you can’t talk about just one) is Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War by the literary critic Edmund Wilson. He starts off with a bizarre social/biological theory of human warfare – he likens the North and South to blind sea slugs trying to eat each other (it prompted Catton to say, “That man knows everything about the Civil War except why it was fought”) and then blessedly forgets all about that for the rest of the book, which looks at the war solely through the writings of the men and women who went through it. The emphasis is more social and literary than military, but it’s brilliant.

Speaking of the people who were there, do you have the four volume collection of first hand accounts of the war that the Library of America put out several years ago? It’s essential. It’s like Battles and Leaders but not as self-serving; all ranks speak, plus civilians and politicians, again with the emphasis on the whole national experience, not just on the battlefield.

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