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The best books of 2023

This list is part of the best books of 2023.

We've asked 1,644 authors and super readers for their 3 favorite reads of the year.

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My favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865

James D. Best Why did I love this book?

With the exception of the Monitor vs. Merrimack (CSS Virginia), naval battles get short shrift in Civil War books. McPherson certainly fills that gap with War on the Waters.

Land battles were certainly decisive, but the Union may have lost the war without Gideon Welles and the Navy Department. McPherson’s book was valuable to my research, but more importantly, it was interesting, well-written, and at times fun.

I recommend this book to all those interested in the Civil War, naval battles, technology advancement, or military politics.

By James M. McPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War on the Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although previously undervalued for their strategic impact because the represented only a small percentage of total forces, the Union and Confederate navies were crucial to the outcome of the Civil War. In War on the Waters, James M. McPherson has crafted an enlightening, at times harrowing, and ultimately thrilling account of the war's naval campaigns and their military leaders.
McPherson recounts how the Union navy's blockade of the Confederate coast, leaky as a sieve in the war's early months, became increasingly effective as it choked off vital imports and exports. Meanwhile, the Confederate navy, dwarfed by its giant adversary, demonstrated…


My 2nd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

James D. Best Why did I love this book?

What was the Lost Cause? Dilorenzo answers this question from the perspective of a Southerner which is great material for a novel on the Civil War.

The book is fun because Dilorenzo presents his positions with entertaining gusto. He tries hard to convince the reader that the War of Northern Aggression had nothing to do with slavery; the South did not provoke war; the Constitution included a right to secede, the South should have been allowed to leave peacefully; antebellum life in the South was prosperous, dignified, and just; slavery was already dying; Robert E. Lee deserved deification, U. S. Grant deserved vilification, the North deserves condemnation for engaging in total war; and most important, Lincoln was a vile despot.

History is written by victors-except in this case. It was an interesting read.

By Thomas J. Dilorenzo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Real Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War

Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled…


My 3rd favorite read in 2023…

Book cover of The Myth of the Lost Cause: Why the South Fought the Civil War and Why the North Won

James D. Best Why did I love this book?

This is a great companion book for DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln. The argument about the cause of the Civil War has raged for over one hundred and fifty years, and these two books will provide the information you need to make up your own mind.

Bonekemper dismisses the idea that the Civil War was victimized innocence. While DiLorenzo argues that antebellum life in the South was prosperous, dignified, and just, Bonekemper claims it was none of these things.

The Myth of the Lost Cause is indeed history, as seen by the victors.

By Edward H. Bonekemper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth of the Lost Cause as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

History isn't always written by the winners...

Twenty-first-century controversies over Confederate monuments attest to the enduring significance of our nineteenth-century Civil War. As Lincoln knew, the meaning of America itself depends on how we understand that fratricidal struggle.

As soon as the Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms at Appomattox, a group of Confederate officers took up their pens to refight the war for the history books. They composed a new narrative-the Myth of the Lost Cause-seeking to ennoble the sacrifice and defeat of the South, which popular historians in the twentieth century would perpetuate. Unfortunately, that myth…


Plus, check out my book…

Tempest at Dawn

By James D. Best,

Book cover of Tempest at Dawn

What is my book about?

The United States is on the brink of total collapse.

The military has been reduced to near extinction, economic turmoil saps hope, and anarchy threatens as world powers hover like vultures, eager to devour the remains. In a desperate move, a few powerful men call a secret meeting to plot the overthrow of the government.

Fifty-five men came to Philadelphia in 1787 with a congressional charter to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they founded the longest-lasting republic in world history. Tempest at Dawn tells their story.