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Meet the WritersImage of James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
What was the book that most influenced your life?
Origins of the New South, 1877-1913, by C. Vann Woodward. It opened a whole new way of looking at the history of the South and of race relations during a crucial period of transformation from slavery to segregated freedom. It also influenced me to come to Johns Hopkins, where Woodward taught, for my graduate work, and he was in important influence in my understanding of history and how to write it.

Tell us about your ten favorite books.

  • Woodward, Origins of the New South, as noted before.
  • The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward. Important interpretation of race relations history.
  • Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction by Eric L. McKitrick. Pathbreaking study in portraying the breakdown between President and Congress that led to Johnson’s impeachment.
  • The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood. Places the meaning of the Revolution in an important context that has implications for all of American history.
  • The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 by David Potter. Most thorough study of the causes of the Civil War.
  • Ordeal of the Union (four volumes) and The War for the Union by Allan Nevins. Most detailed and thorough study of the whole period from 1846-1865, which was of great help in my own research and writing about this era.
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. A novel about Gettysburg that brings the human dimension of that battle and what it meant to vivid life.
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The great American Novel, which can be re-read many times for new meaning each time.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. I read this as a parable of the conflict between North and South that erupted in a tragic Civil War.
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. The best novel about World War I.
Who are your favorite writers?
  • C. Vann Woodward. Best insights into the South; a strong element of the irony of American history.
  • Mark Twain. Greatest American writer, uses satire to expose folly of human nature.
  • Ernest Hemingway. Powerful writer about the human condition.
What else would you like readers to know about you?
My favorite forms of exercise -- and of unwinding -- are tennis and bicycling. I also like to unwind by reading good (but not profound) mystery and adventure novels. I enjoy playing with my granddaughter (21 months) and look forward to teaching her how to ride a bicycle, play tennis, and do many other things.

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In the Works
"A short book about my experience guiding students and people from all walks of life around Civil War battlefields, to be titled A Walk on Hallowed Ground."

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About the Writer
*James M. McPherson Home
* Interview
* In the Works
In Our Other Stores
*James M. McPherson Movies
*The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1964
*The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted during the War for the Union, 1965
*The Abolitionist Legacy: From Reconstruction to the NAACP, 1975
*Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1982
*Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Vol. 6, 1988
*Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, 1991
*What They Fought for, 1861-1865, 1994
*Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War, 1997
*For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, 1998
*Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, 2002
*Fields of Fury (children's history), 2002
*This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War, 2007