Civil War Books

A quick note concerning realism and Civil War novels, (and movies, for that matter): they simply do not stack up against good non-fiction, particularly the narrative histories of Foote, Catton, Sears. Case in point, I have not read a novel on Gettysburg that makes even a passing mention of this: in the three days of almost continuous combat the temperatures were in the high eighties, the humidity higher; no breeze whatever, flags hung limp, smoke would not move; 57,000 casualties in three days, at least 5,000 horses killed; the first wind kicked in just as Pickett’s charge went off (much Falknerian conjecture on the meaning of that), thunderstorms followed; violent, electrical storms that dumped inches of water in minutes and had dazed survivors quoting King Lear in his madness. The blood ran in rivulets, flowed into town, like something out of the really bad parts of the Bible; the stench was … well, Sears tells the story of a Union Cavalry Regiment riding through the middle of the battlefield the day after Picket’s charge, to a man leaning over their saddles to vomit. The people of Gettysburg could not open their windows the rest of the summer. A novel, movie, about the Civil War should have its visceral moments, or it just perpetuates the myths . 
My top ten Civil war books, novels and non-fiction . . . . the scarcity of novels speaks for itself . . . . I did not include biographies

The Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Bruce Catton
The Civil War: A Narrative (3 Vol. Set)The Civil War, a Narrative, Shelby Foote
The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane

The Banished Children of Eve, Peter Quinn 

◦Gettysburg, Stephen Sears

Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, Drew Gilpin Faust

Confederates in the Attic, Tony Horwitz
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin
Civil War in the American West, Alvin M. Josephy


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