10 Books About The American Civil War For The Armchair Historian

(Yes, I know this was already posted last December but I forgot to finish it before it went live so here ya go again)

I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War for as long as I can remember. Lately in the past few months, I’ve been diving back into research for my Civil War series, A Time For Everything, because I want to present both sides in a fair, accurate manner.

That is, to the best of my abilities as a lover of history, a storyteller, and as an American who is 160+ years removed from the war.

Anyway, here are ten books I recommend to anyone with a fascination for the American Civil War. To be honest, I haven’t finished any of them so once I do finish, I’ll come back with a fuller review. Right now, I’ll just share my current thoughts, if I have any, along with a little insight into what the book is about.

A Basic History of the United States, Vol. 3: The Sections & The Civil War / Clarence B. Carson

This is more of a schoolbook, so it basically compresses information into bite-sized pieces, but I still count it. It starts with a basic overview of the events that eventually led to the Civil War, and also goes a tiny bit into Reconstruction at the end. I’ve actually only read through the chapters titled ‘The Coming of The Civil War’ and ‘The Civil War’ but I did start reading it from the beginning some time ago.

The Life of Billy Yank / Bell Irvin Wiley


The Life of Johnny Reb / Bell Irvin Wiley


The Slaves’ War / Andrew Ward

The tagline pretty much says it all. It’s not surprising to hear that slave owners lied to their slaves about the Yanks. To be sure, not every Yankee was a good guy but lumping everyone in a group as the same is just not how real life works, much to the chagrin of modern society.

This Hallowed Ground / Bruce Catton


Lee Vs. McClellan: The First Campaign / Clayton R. Newell

Other than being about the campaign in Virginia, this book also explains the sectional differences between Eastern Virginia and Western Virginia – basically a side story about how West Virginia became a state.

The Blue and The Gray / Henry Steele Commager

This is a compilation of documents from the war itself. I gotta say, though I wasn’t surprised, South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession is eyebrow-raising. I have the two volume set, but there’s also a two-in-one volume if you wanna save space on your bookshelf, haha. Given how large these are, I don’t see myself being done with them till like, the end of the year.

Forged In Battle / Joseph T. Glatthaar

This is an interesting read, and may have inspired a thing that happens later on in the series. One interesting quirk of the copy I have is that the cover was set upside down!

The Union At Risk / Richard E. Ellis

If you want to understand the Civil War, you have to research the period that came before it. I started reading this on on Internet Archives because apparently, the reprint is expensive – like, WAY expensive. It’s actually quite heavy so this one is best to take in miniscule amounts.

Capital Dames / Cokie Roberts


Okay, that’s all for today. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I’ll come back with a full review of each book, whether that will entail editing this post or creating an entirely new one, I don’t know yet. Kinda leaning towards the latter.

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