100 books like Confederate Emancipation

By Bruce Levine,

Here are 100 books that Confederate Emancipation fans have personally recommended if you like Confederate Emancipation. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

This slim volume packs a mean punch. Following the secession of the seven Deep Southern states in 1860-61, commissioners were sent out to the remaining uncommitted slaveholding states to convince their leaders of the necessity of joining the new Confederate States of America. While the arguments of these secession commissioners included constitutional arguments in favor of secession, they relied even more so on emotional pleas that framed the election of the nation’s first Republican president as a direct threat to the institution of slavery and white supremacy. Their speeches were laced with horrific images of emancipation and a region plunged into racial violence. Charles Dew offers a compelling argument that highlights the importance of slavery and race in the outbreak of war.

By Charles B. Dew,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Charles Dew's Apostles of Disunion has established itself as a modern classic and an indispensable account of the Southern states' secession from the Union. Addressing topics still hotly debated among historians and the public at large more than a century and a half after the Civil War, the book offers a compelling and clearly substantiated argument that slavery and race were at the heart of our great national crisis. The fifteen years since the original publication of Apostles of Disunion have seen an intensification of debates surrounding the Confederate flag and Civil War monuments. In a powerful new afterword to…


Book cover of Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

The Confederacy relied extensively on slave labor throughout the Civil War. The Confederate War Department and Engineer Bureau utilized enslaved labor to construct fortifications at key sites, build and repair railroad lines, and manufacture war materiel in places like Richmond’s Tredegar Iron Works. According to historian Jaime Martinez, this impressed labor forced slaveowners into close cooperation with an increasingly centralized Confederate government that struggled to conduct a war against an enemy that enjoyed advantages in manpower and other resources. One of the most valuable aspects of this book is its coverage of the conditions that slaves operated under while on military duty. Many became sick and died while others took their chances to escape to the Union army. Finally, Martinez argues convincingly that the Confederacy’s impressment policies influenced the timing of Lincoln’s push toward emancipation as a way to undermine the Confederate mobilization of slave labor.

By Jaime Amanda Martinez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Under policies instituted by the Confederacy, white Virginians and North Carolinians surrendered control over portions of their slave populations to state authorities, military officials, and the national government to defend their new nation. State and local officials cooperated with the Confederate War Department and Engineer Bureau, as well as individual generals, to ensure a supply of slave labor on fortifications. Using the implementation of this policy in the Upper South as a window into the workings of the Confederacy, Jaime Amanda Martinez provides a social and political history of slave impressment. She challenges the assumption that the conduct of the…


Book cover of Marching Masters: Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army During the Civil War

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

Most Confederate soldiers were not slaveholders, but as historian Colin Woodward argues, all of them were products of a slaveholding culture and, as a result, fought to maintain the rigid racial hierarchy that had come to define their respective communities. Appreciating the central place that the defense of slavery occupied for most Confederates helps us to better understand why the war lasted as long as it did. Some of the most interesting chapters in this book explore the roles played by thousands of body servants that accompanied officers from the slaveholding class. Enslaved men performed a wide range of jobs, including cooking meals, washing clothes, and digging ditches. Their presence served as a constant reminder of the army’s reliance on enslaved labor and its broader significance as the Confederacy’s “cornerstone.”

By Colin Edward Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marching Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Confederate army went to war to defend a nation of slaveholding states, and although men rushed to recruiting stations for many reasons, they understood that the fundamental political issue at stake in the conflict was the future of slavery. Most Confederate soldiers were not slaveholders themselves, but they were products of the largest and most prosperous slaveholding civilization the world had ever seen, and they sought to maintain clear divisions between black and white, master and servant, free and slave.

In Marching Masters Colin Woodward explores not only the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers but…


Book cover of Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth: The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry

Kevin M. Levin Author Of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth

From my list on slavery and the confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and educator based in Boston. I have authored three books and numerous essays on the Civil War era. You can find my op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast. Over the past few years, I have worked with students and teachers across the country to better understand the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments.

Kevin's book list on slavery and the confederacy

Kevin M. Levin Why did Kevin love this book?

Over one million men served in the Confederate army between 1861 and 1865. Their letters and diaries offer insight into every aspect of military service, including their views on slavery. Irby Goodwin Scott’s published letters track his movements in the Army of Northern Virginia and include detailed coverage of some of the bloodiest battles of the war. They also offer a window into the relationship between one officer and two body servants that accompanied him at different times during the war. Scott relied on his body servants in camp, on the march, and even on the battlefield, but he also acknowledged a shared experience brought on by the exigency of war. Together master and slave experienced being away from family, suffered through inclement weather, and bouts of sickness. The relationship between master and slave evolved over the course of the war, based on a wide range of factors. Violence was…

By Johnnie Perry Pearson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Offering a fascinating look at an ordinary soldier's struggle to survive not only the horrors of combat but also the unrelenting hardship of camp life, Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth brings together for the first time the extant correspondence of Confederate lieutenant Irby Goodwin Scott, who served in the hard-fighting Twelfth Georgia Infantry.

The collection begins with Scott's first letter home from Richmond, Virginia, in June 1861, and ends with his last letter to his father in February 1865. Scott miraculously completed the journey from naive recruit to hardened veteran while seeing action in many of the Eastern Theatre's most…


Book cover of Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps

Brian Matthew Jordan Author Of A Thousand May Fall: An Immigrant Regiment's Civil War

From my list on laying bare the human ordeal of the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War my entire life. As a boy, I met a man in my Ohio hometown who spent his own youth visiting with the last, wrinkled survivors of the Union armies. His memories at once made the Civil War real and immediate for me. I soon devoured every book and walked every battlefield I could find. After earning an undergraduate degree in Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College, I completed my Ph.D. at Yale. I have authored six books on the conflict—one of which was a runner-up for the Pulitzer in History—and teach courses on the Civil War at Sam Houston State University.   

Brian Matthew's book list on laying bare the human ordeal of the Civil War

Brian Matthew Jordan Why did Brian Matthew love this book?

This book recovers—through diligent archival spadework and keen historical empathy—the human realities of emancipation for freedom-seeking enslaved persons. Emancipation, Taylor demonstrates, was a humanitarian refugee crisis acted out amidst the uncertainties of civil warfare. Embattled Freedom supplies a sweeping survey of a complex historical process, but it does so on a human scale—tracking a small group of protagonists as they wind their way to the uncertain asylum of slave refugee (“contraband”) camps. The author’s close attention to the material realities of “contraband” camps—hunger, shelter, and clothing—builds a sense of intimacy and emotional connection. Scholars have established that emancipation was a process, and that the enslaved played a vital role in their own liberation; here is the best account of how that struggle was lived.   

By Amy Murrell Taylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of…


Book cover of Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island

Joan E. Cashin Author Of War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War

From my list on gender and race in 18th and 19th Century America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Ohio State, where I have taught for most of my career. I have always been fascinated by how people in different regions define their own identities, how other Americans perceive them, and how these ideas change over time. Having lived through several wars (as a civilian), I have observed that social and political conflicts on the homefront can be intense in their own right and that non-military events and military events are often connected. In my work, I have published on gender, race, slavery, family, material culture, legal history, and environmental history, from the Revolution through the Civil War. 

Joan's book list on gender and race in 18th and 19th Century America

Joan E. Cashin Why did Joan love this book?

This book establishes that slavery was central to the Rhode Island economy from the colonial period well into the nineteenth century.

For many years, historians concentrated on slavery in the South, but we now have great scholarship on slavery in the North. Clark-Pujara illustrates how the black community, including the women, struggled against oppression in New England.  

Once I started reading, I could hardly put it down.

By Christy Clark-Pujara,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dark Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tells the story of one state in particular whose role in the slave trade was outsized: Rhode Island
Historians have written expansively about the slave economy and its vital role in early American economic life. Like their northern neighbors, Rhode Islanders bought and sold slaves and supplies that sustained plantations throughout the Americas; however, nowhere else was this business so important. During the colonial period trade with West Indian planters provided Rhode Islanders with molasses, the key ingredient for their number one export: rum. More than 60 percent of all the slave ships that left North America left from Rhode…


Book cover of Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America

Seth Mallios Author Of Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend

From my list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, anthropologist, and historian who has worked on both the East Coast (Flowerdew Hundred and Jamestown, Virginia) and West Coast (San Diego, California) of the U.S. and dug sites from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, I am passionate about how archaeology can serve to offer new insights for marginalized peoples in American history. I specialize in exposing how narrow thinking, revisionism, and myth-making warp local histories and turn them into fabrications of the present. 

Seth's book list on confronting slavery and how it impacts society today

Seth Mallios Why did Seth love this book?

As a historical archaeologist, I find this book especially compelling. Stolen Childhood does a fine job of blending insights from a variety of primary-source narratives and recently uncovered archaeological artifacts; but these insights transcend the specific research questions regarding the conditions of daily life for slave youth in nineteenth-century America and indirectly make an intriguing case for why current archaeologists should pay as much attention to issues of childhood, parenting, and aging as they do to ethnicity, class, and gender.

By Wilma King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stolen Childhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most important books published on slave society, Stolen Childhood focuses on the millions of children and youth enslaved in 19th-century America. This enlarged and revised edition reflects the abundance of new scholarship on slavery that has emerged in the 15 years since the first edition. While the structure of the book remains the same, Wilma King has expanded its scope to include the international dimension with a new chapter on the transatlantic trade in African children, and the book's geographic boundaries now embrace slave-born children in the North. She includes data about children owned by Native Americans…


Book cover of Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

Reidy's book is an elegant and engaging read, but it is not an easy one.

It illustrates how the process of emancipation actually played out on the ground after Abraham Lincoln issued his famed Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It takes us away from the marble edifices of Civil War Washington and into the dirt, showing us how messy the process of implementing freedom truly was.

It does so, moreover, by centering our attention on the actual men and women fighting for their own freedom. Reidy offers us historians a seminal reminder: change is not made solely from on high.

By Joseph P. Reidy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As students of the Civil War have long known, emancipation was not merely a product of Lincoln's proclamation or of Confederate defeat in April 1865. It was a process that required more than legal or military action. With enslaved people fully engaged as actors, emancipation necessitated a fundamental reordering of a way of life whose implications stretched well beyond the former slave states. Slavery did not die quietly or quickly, nor did freedom fulfill every dream of the enslaved or their allies. The process unfolded unevenly.

In this sweeping reappraisal of slavery's end during the Civil War era, Joseph P.…


Book cover of The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers

Chandra Manning Author Of What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

From my list on accounts of the Civil War from people who were there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Despite what my kids think, I am not actually old enough to have “been there” during the Civil War itself, but I have spent my entire professional career studying it. Years in archives reading other people’s mail, old newspaper accounts, dusty diaries, and handwritten testimonies, along with sifting through records books and ledgers of all descriptions have taught me exactly how intertwined slavery, Civil War, and emancipation all were, and I am dedicated to trying to explain the connections to anyone who reads my books, stumbles across my digital history work, or sits in my classroom at Georgetown University, where I teach history. Two good places to see the results of my efforts include What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War which won the Avery Craven Award for best book on the Civil War and was a finalist for the Lincoln Prize and Frederick Douglass Prize, and Troubled Refuge: Struggling for Freedom in the Civil War, which won the Jefferson Davis Prize and was also a finalist for the Lincoln Prize.

Chandra's book list on accounts of the Civil War from people who were there

Chandra Manning Why did Chandra love this book?

As the Union Army penetrated into Confederate territory, enslaved men, women, and children fled bondage to take refuge with the army. Roughly half a million formerly enslaved people exited slavery in this way, spending the war in encampments appended to the army or in Union occupied cities. They influenced the progress and outcome of the war as well as emancipation. They also encountered conditions that amounted to a humanitarian crisis, one that soldiers tasked with fighting a war were ill-equipped to meet. Civilians from the North made their way to camps and occupied cities to serve as relief workers. Harriet Jacobs headed South as just such a worker. Jacobs herself had been born a slave and made a harrowing escape decades earlier, but when war broke out, she braved the South again. She made her way to Alexandria, Virginia where she worked among the many freedom seekers who came to…

By Joseph M Thomas, Scott Korb, Jean Fagan Yellin

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Harriet Jacobs Family Papers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the only collection of papers of an African American woman held in slavery.Although millions of African American women were held in bondage over the 250 years that slavery was legal in the United States, Harriet Jacobs (1813-97) is the only one known to have left papers testifying to her life. Her autobiography, ""Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"", holds a central place in the canon of American literature as the most important slave narrative by an African American woman.Born in Edenton, North Carolina, Jacobs escaped from her owner in her mid-twenties and hid in the cramped…


Book cover of On Juneteenth

Nina Silber Author Of This War Ain't Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America

From my list on the ongoing legacy of the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up visiting lots of historic sites – and hearing my father sing old Civil War tunes (frequently off-key!) on long car trips – I gravitated pretty quickly to studying the Civil War, and its aftermath, when I was in college and then in graduate school. I was particularly interested in the way Americans experienced the Civil War after it was over: the sentimental novels they read; the romantic movies they watched; the reconstructed battlefields they visited. In my work as a professor at Boston University, I try to get students to think about the stories that do, and do not, get told about the Civil War and other events from the past. I suppose the question that always piqued my interest was why people might find the often wildly inaccurate versions of the past so appealing.

Nina's book list on the ongoing legacy of the American Civil War

Nina Silber Why did Nina love this book?

In this brief and powerful book, esteemed historian Annette Gordon-Reed focuses on “Juneteenth”, the day (June 19, 1865) when enslaved workers in Texas were declared free by the Union Army following the conclusion of the Civil War. For Gordon-Reed, a black Texas woman, Juneteenth, recently declared a federal holiday, offers a starting point for pondering the legacy of slavery and emancipation for Afro-Texans and for thinking more broadly about the tension between history and myth. In the course of all this, Gordon-Reed tells her own personal story about navigating the often fraught terrain of her state’s legacy of racial exploitation.

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Juneteenth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Interweaving American history, dramatic family chronicle and searing episodes of memoir, On Juneteenth recounts the origins of the holiday that celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. A descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas in the 1850s, Annette Gordon-Reed, explores the legacies of the holiday.

From the earliest presence of black people in Texas-in the 1500s, well before enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown-to the day in Galveston on 19 June 1865, when General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery, Gordon-Reed's insightful and inspiring essays present the saga of a "frontier" peopled by…


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