The best novels to gain perspective about the American Civil War

Who am I?

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of only a few female Civil War authors, and uniquely describes the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, winner of the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and the B.R.A.G. Medallion, A Beckoning Hellfire, which is also an award winner, and A Rebel Among Us, recipient of the 2017 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award. These books tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, the International Women's Writing Guild, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter.


I wrote...

Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses

By J.D.R. Hawkins,

Book cover of Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses

What is my book about?

Never before has there been such a comprehensive look at Confederate military horses in the Civil War and their lives before, during, and after battle. Why particular breeds or colors were chosen for specific tasks, what the life expectancy of military horses was and why they died, and the distinct challenges of caring for horses in wartime conditions are all covered. Chapters focus on how they were acquired by their owners, their lineages, the stories behind their names, and the ways in which they were immortalized. Robert E. Lee's Traveller, Stonewall Jackson's Little Sorrel, Forrest's thirty horses, Ashby's Tom Telegraph, and many more are included in this must-read history.

The books I picked & why

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Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell,

Book cover of Gone With the Wind

Why this book?

This is one of my all time favorites! The book was so popular when it was first published that it was quickly picked up by Hollywood and made into a movie. The film is a classic, even though disclaimers have recently been attached to it. Gone With the Wind won the 1939 Academy Award for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best actress Vivian Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara, and best supporting actress, Hattie McDaniel, who was the first African American to win an Oscar.

Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Gone With the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the tempestuous romance between Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara is set amid the drama of the Civil War.


Cold Mountain

By Charles Frazier,

Book cover of Cold Mountain

Why this book?

Like Gone With the Wind, this book was also made into an award-winning movie. I find the novel interesting because of the way Charles Frasier wrote it. There are no quotation marks in the book! I’m not sure why he chose to write it like that, but it’s interesting, nevertheless.

Cold Mountain

By Charles Frazier,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Cold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1997, Charles Frazier’s debut novel Cold Mountain made publishing history when it sailed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks, won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, and went on to sell over three million copies. Now, the beloved American epic returns, reissued by Grove Press to coincide with the publication of Frazier’s eagerly-anticipated second novel, Thirteen Moons. Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves.…


The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Book cover of The Widow of the South

Why this book?

I really like this book because it tells the poignant tale of Carrie McGavock, who was forced to deal with the Civil War when it appeared in her front yard. This is based on a true story. Carrie was so compassionate that she buried the solders, both northern and southern, on her property. The cemetery at her home, Carnton Plantation, is still there. I had the opportunity to meet the author, Robert Hicks, at a book signing, and visit Carnton Plantation. The home served as a field hospital during the Battle of Franklin, and bloodstains still remain on the wooden floors.

The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Widow of the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tennessee, 1864. On a late autumn day, near a little town called Franklin, 10,000 men will soon lie dead or dying in a battle that will change many lives for ever. None will be more changed than Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital. Taking charge, she finds the courage to face up to the horrors around her and, in doing so, finds a cause.

Out on the battlefield, a tired young Southern soldier drops his guns and charges forward into Yankee territory, holding only the flag of his…


March

By Geraldine Brooks,

Book cover of March

Why this book?

This book is not as well known, but the author, Geraldine Brooks, did an amazing job in describing the war. She took an interesting spin by writing a side story to the famous novel, Little Women. Interestingly, Little Women was written by Louisa May Alcott, who served as a Union nurse during the Civil War.

March

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked March as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. Set during the American Civil War, MARCH tells the story of John March, known to us as the father away from his family of girls in LITTLE WOMEN, Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel. In Brooks' telling, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of a war that tests his faith in himself and in the Union cause when he learns that his side, too,…


Shiloh

By Shelby Foote,

Book cover of Shiloh

Why this book?

This novel was written by Shelby Foote, who gained notoriety when he appeared on Ken Burns’ documentary series, the Civil War. Mr. Foote is probably better known for his trilogy of the Civil War, which is narrative nonfiction. However, he did write fiction as well, and this book is one example.

Shiloh

By Shelby Foote,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This fictional re-creation of the battle of Shiloh in April 1862 is a stunning work of imaginative history, from Shelby Foote, beloved historian of the Civil War.  Shiloh conveys not only the bloody choreography of Union and Confederate troops through the woods near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, but the inner movements of the combatants’ hearts and minds.  Through the eyes of officers and illiterate foot soldiers, heroes and cowards, Shiloh creates a dramatic mosaic of a critical moment in the making of America, complete to the haze of gunsmoke and the stunned expression in the eyes of dying men.
 
Shiloh, which…


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