Friday, June 18, 2010

Civil War Genre

I’m making good progress with finishing up edits on my Civil War novel, The Long Defeat, and I started thinking about all of the great Civil War genre-type books I’ve read that had an influence on my own book. Some of you may be more aware than others of the large and ever growing genre of Civil War fiction, and although I could never list out the numerous books to choose from I decided today to list out a few of my favorites (in no particular order) for those of you interested in delving deeper into this fascinating genre of literature. I’m a big fan of all historical fiction in general, but I think that there is something unique about novelizations on the American Civil War. Some undefined quality that makes them at once eloquent and rough, universal and decidedly American. But enough of my guff. Checkout the list below and see which ones you’d like to add to you summer reading list this year! 

The Killer Angels
By Michael Shaara, One of the all time greatest Civil War novels, this Pulitzer Prize winning book centers around the pivotal battle of Gettysburg (also the film Gettysburg is based on this novel).

By MacKinlay Kantor, Another winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel depicts soldiers and civilians, North and South, who dealt with the most infamous prison camp of the war, Andersonville, Georgia.

Gods and Generals
By Jeff Shaara, Depicting events in the war from its outset up to the battle of Gettysburg, this story is written by Michael Shaara’s son and is intended as a prequel of sorts.

Last Full Measure
By Jeff Shaara, Continuing where Gods and Generals and The Killer Angels leave off, this book chronicles the story of the generals on both sides during the last half of the war.

The March
By E. L. Doctorow, Winner of the Michael Shaara Award, this almost post-modern novel portrays men and women in the western theatre of war, particularly Sherman’s march to the sea.

Gone With the Wind
By Margaret Mitchell, Probably one of the most famous Southern books ever written, this novel needs no introductions and is definitely a worthwhile read.

The Red Badge of Courage
By Stephen Crane, The quintessential Civil War novel, written from the perspective of a common foot soldier, it came out only thirty years after the war and had a huge impact. 

By Valerie Martin, Not strictly a Civil War novel, this compelling book takes place on a slave plantation in Louisiana before the war and its dramatic monologue style is not to be missed.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin 
By Harriet Beecher Stowe, This book came out just before the war and it got reactions from people North and South, making it a bestseller then and now.

Cold Mountain
By Charles Frazier, Set in North Carolina and modeled somewhat on Homer’s Iliad, this story follows a rebel deserter and the woman back home that he loves as they try to get back to one another.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
By Frederick Douglass, Not fiction, but nonetheless all the more compelling as he describes his birth, enslavement, and struggle for freedom in an America few would recognize today.