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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two teenagers who I love very much. I currently volunteer at the battlefield and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. These words often add a degree of color and character not found elsewhere in their stories. A feature of this blog is the presentation of some of these quotes. My perspective comes from a 28 year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign that fortune could have gone either way. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Bonanza


On a snow Saturday afternoon, there is nothing better than poking around a bookstore or two in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. That is what I did yesterday. In the past when I have been to Gettysburg with the kids, they have not had the patience or inclination to indulge my passion for nosing around so I have not been able to give these places more than a cursory look. Yesterday was another story. With no one tagging along I spent a couple of pleasant hours in two fine establishments slowly going over their collections. They were Battlefield & Beyond Military History Bookshop, and the American History Store on 461 Baltimore Street.

I will be eating macaroni and cheese for a couple of weeks to defray my investments on Saturday but emerged with the following new titles for my collection:


Abner Doubleday A Civil War Biography by Thomas Barthel


Battle at Bull Run – A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War by William C. Davis


Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade edited by Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipound


Personal Recollections of the Civil War by John Gibbon


The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 edited by Gary W. Gallagher


The Smoothbore Volley That Doomed the Confederacy by Robert K. Krick


Why the South Lost the Civl War by Richard Beringer, Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, and William N. Still, Jr.


Many of these are titles that I have been interested in acquiring for years and now I am pleased to own them. I really like the anthology type books and three of these (Black Hats, Smoothbore Volley, and Shenandoah Valley) fall into that category. William C. Davis's book on First Bull Run was recommended to me when I visited that battlefield recently. I just read How the North Won by Hattaway and Jones, one of my all time favorites and when I saw the companion piece about the South, it went into the shopping cart too. Two biographies about Antietam generals Doubleday and Gibbon (actually Gibbons is an autobiography) also made the 40 mile trip back to Jefferson Maryland yesterday.


My normal mode of acquiring books is on line and I likely paid more for several of these titles at yesterday than if I had gone after them on line. However it is important I think to keep the brick and mortar institutions, and especially the small retail stores in business. They fulfill an important role in the book retailing industry. And as I said earlier, just the experience of looking at the books and putting hands on them is a cool thing for me.

I will be curled up around some very good books on these long winter (and likely spring and summer) nights.

2 comments:

  1. Jim,

    Sounds like an enriching day! I just treated myself to The Shiloh Campaign (essays) edited by Steven Woodworth and don't feel the least bit guilty. As a fan of Lance Herdegen's work on the Iron Brigade, I'd be interested to hear your take on the Gibbon's Recollections and the book of essays. In time . . .

    -Dylan

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  2. Dylan,
    The anthologies are great. I think you will like the Iron Brigade essays. There is one particularly good about Battery B. Gibbon's recollection are remarkably well written and readable. I enjoyed his account of the move of Battery B from Utah back to the east coast in the fall of 1862. Hope to see you soon at the park.
    Regards
    Jim

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