10 books like Confederates in the Attic

By Tony Horwitz,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Confederates in the Attic. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Embattled Freedom

By Amy Murrell Taylor,

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

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.   

Embattled Freedom

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…


A Prayer for the Dying

By Stewart O'Nan,

Book cover of A Prayer for the Dying

A Prayer for the Dying is the only full-length novel I’ve ever read entirely in second-person perspective—which makes for a white-knuckle-grip adventure as the narrator drags the reader along a dark, haunted path, which is also a little bit on fire.

This ghost story full of living people (at first) follows a hard-working and dedicated protagonist who tries to protect his little town of Friendship as it faces disaster after horrible disaster. The narrative of the story unfurls like a tidal wave—terrifying, yet impossible to look away from as it sweeps away everything in its path. This scary story is definitely not for the faint of heart.

A Prayer for the Dying

By Stewart O'Nan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Prayer for the Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a leafy Wisconsin town just after the American Civil War, this story opens one languid summer's day. Only slowly do events reveal themselves as sinister as one neighbour after another succumbs to a creeping, fatal disease.


The War for the Common Soldier

By Peter S. Carmichael,

Book cover of The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies

Accounts of the common soldier are part of a long tradition in Civil War history—but this is not your typical study. Carmichael sets out not to examine motivations or ideology, but to explore "the life of the rank and file as it was lived." The war forced soldiers in the North and South to bridge the gulf between two competing impulses. "Sentimentalism" helped soldiers understand war as a series of hardships and sacrifices that could be endured through faith, courage, and patriotism. Confronting this conventional approach was a "pragmatism" that guided soldiers desperately seeking to survive with honor the filth, blood, and despair that they actually experienced. Carmichael makes his argument through careful, moving, and fascinating narratives of men trying to explain the war to their loved ones and to themselves.

The War for the Common Soldier

By Peter S. Carmichael,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War for the Common Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did Civil War soldiers endure the brutal and unpredictable existence of army life during the conflict? This question is at the heart of Peter S. Carmichael's sweeping new study of men at war. Based on close examination of the letters and records left behind by individual soldiers from both the North and the South, Carmichael explores the totality of the Civil War experience-the marching, the fighting, the boredom, the idealism, the exhaustion, the punishments, and the frustrations of being away from families who often faced their own dire circumstances. Carmichael focuses not on what soldiers thought but rather how…


This Republic of Suffering

By Drew Gilpin Faust,

Book cover of This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War

Death is everywhere in war: on the battlefield, in a disease-ridden hospital, or in childbirth on the home front. Drew Gilpin Faust’s non-fiction book, This Republic of Suffering, brings eye-popping numeric data to the prevalence of death in war. But she never stops at the surface level of how many deaths, or how many unidentified soldiers or improper burials occur during the Civil War. I was caught up entirely as Faust’s words, riveting and respectful of all the pain and loss, showed how death became an ennobling transformation for many people, either in the cause of racial standing or of Union/secessionist preservation.

This Republic of Suffering

By Drew Gilpin Faust,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked This Republic of Suffering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • An "extraordinary ... profoundly moving" history (The New York Times Book Review) of the American Civil War that reveals the ways that death on such a scale changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation.

More than 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the American Civil War. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. In This Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust describes how the survivors managed on a practical level and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the unprecedented carnage with its belief…


The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy

By Pietra Rivoli,

Book cover of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

This was the first book I read that was kind of an embedded object biography back when I was an undergraduate student in my second-ever anthropology class. I was totally hooked on the genre. This book follows t-shirts, from where cotton is picked, to where t-shirts are manufactured, printed, sold and distributed, to their disposal—including second lives on the used clothing market. “Who made your t-shirt?” as a great first starting question.

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy

By Pietra Rivoli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The keys to global business success, as taught by a T-shirt's journey

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is a critically-acclaimed narrative that illuminates the globalization debates and reveals the key factors to success in global business. Tracing a T-shirt's life story from a Texas cotton field to a Chinese factory and back to a U.S. storefront before arriving at the used clothing market in Africa, the book uncovers the political and economic forces at work in the global economy. Along the way, this fascinating exploration addresses a wealth of compelling questions about politics, trade, economics, ethics,…


Race and Reunion

By David W. Blight,

Book cover of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory

This book was, for me, like a light bulb that suddenly illuminated a dark terrain: a brilliant analysis of how American memories of the Civil War often bear so little relationship to what really happened in the actual war. Historian David Blight not only dissects myths, like the “Lost Cause”, he also explores the powerful pressures that compelled many Americans, especially white Americans, to pledge allegiance to a reconciliation between the sections. As he observes, that drive to reunify was often accompanied by amnesia about how slavery drove the sections apart and how the long history of black enslavement left a lasting scar on American life.

Race and Reunion

By David W. Blight,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti award
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize

No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion.In 1865, confronted with a ravaged landscape and a torn America, the North and South began a slow and painful process of reconciliation. The…


How the Word Is Passed

By Clint Smith,

Book cover of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

I believe that this book is one of those special texts that is as much about the present as it is the past. Best of all, Smith interviews and engages with so many different individuals in his research that he rarely needs to speak for others. This book teems with first-hand personal accounts that include everyday people expressing a little bit of everything, be it passing on racist misinformation, correcting current misconceptions with keen historical insights, or philosophically musing about public memory, commemoration, and memorialization.  

How the Word Is Passed

By Clint Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How the Word Is Passed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NON-FICTION

'A beautifully readable reminder of how much of our urgent, collective history resounds in places all around us that have been hidden in plain sight.' Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks - those that are honest about the past and those that are not - which offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in…


On Juneteenth

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Book cover of On Juneteenth

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.

On Juneteenth

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…


No Common Ground

By Karen L. Cox,

Book cover of No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

For anyone who wants a clear and concise overview of the Confederate monument issue, this is your book. Cox, a historian, goes through the historical twists and turns of monument construction in the South and, importantly, shows how this was closely intertwined with issues of race. I particularly like the way she spotlights a long history of black Southerners who expressed outrage, and sometimes secretly defiled, these monuments that had sprung up in some of the most prominent public spaces across the South.

No Common Ground

By Karen L. Cox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Common Ground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.

In this eye-opening narrative of the efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments, Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. She lucidly shows the forces that…


The Mushroom at the End of the World

By Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing,

Book cover of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

This is an academic book, but it's beautifully written, and not too, too jargony. Tsing does a kind of commodity ethnography, embedding herself in multiple parts of the lifecycle of the Matsutake Mushroom trade, while depicting the worlds of pickers, restauranteurs, mushroom traders and auctioneers, nature guides, and more. She also weaves in a critique of capitalist markets in which these kinds of natural entities now are embedded, which I dig! 

The Mushroom at the End of the World

By Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mushroom at the End of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What a rare mushroom can teach us about sustaining life on a fragile planet

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world-and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's account of these sought-after fungi offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: What manages to live in the ruins we have made? The Mushroom at the End of the World explores the unexpected corners of matsutake commerce, where we encounter Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions lead us into…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the South, the American Civil War, and the Confederate States of America?

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