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The New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Informative and fun!

    Authoring this type of book has to be almost impossible. Some people will be upset because you left out this person or that battle. Others will question the inclusion of this person or that battle. Civil War numbers are always questionable and your book must have them. This can become another source of questions. What level of knowledge do you aim for? Is this an easy to read, enjoyable introduction? Do we need to do an in-depth factual research book? Can we find the middle of the road and include things for the newbie and the experienced buff? Whatever you do has to fit into 150 pages and be inexpensive. Many years ago, the Author bought a small book about the Civil War that contained a variety of facts and stories. He wishes to reproduce that type of book with a current view of the war.
    This small book will find a number of audiences. For the experienced buff, this will be a romp. They can read the quotes, look at the photos enjoying the visuals and jogging their memories. For people that have studied the war for a few years, this is a quick reference guide too. For someone maybe interested but not sure, this is the toe in the pool. It will let them test the water without spending a large sum of money and/or being required to read 600+ pages. They can read the quotes, look at photos and read the captions. There is enough to give a basic idea of this hobby without drowning in a sea of words. This is an excellent first book for preteens to adults that will give them an idea of the sweep of the war but not frighten them.
    To give you an idea of how much work the author put into this is "Naming the War". He has listed 20 names that one group or another have used over the years. The best part is this is a list without comment. It is designed to make you look these up and find the who and why. "Civil War Voices" is an excellent and diverse set of quotes from the great, near great and unknown. Again, this is just enough to start or remind you of who said this and make you think about what is said.
    "Images of the War" is excellent, over 70 pages of pictures and text showing people, places, weapons and everyday images. This is a comprehensive selection of photos covering women, Afro-Americans and Native Americans in addition to the Presidents, Generals and guns. Photos of dead soldiers might be upsetting to only very young children but this should not be a major problem. What was horrifying in 1863 is pretty tame stuff now.
    A series of table present the statistical side of the hobby. These tables are logical, easy to read and provide just the right level of numbers to complement the text. "Civil War Points of Interest" provide, by state, address, phone number, internet address and a statement about the location. A bookshelf lists many excellent books by subject. The book ends with a short list of internet sites.
    This book triumphs on several levels. First, it is an inexpensive easy to use handbook. Second, it is an attractive fun book to look at and read. Third, it contains a large amount of information with the suggestion for further study. This is going to be my answer to the question "Where should I start looking at the Civil War?" from now on.

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