100 books like The Bloody Shirt

By Stephen Budiansky,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

Having been raised with a love of history, particularly the Civil War, I have always sought to connect our seemingly irreconcilable differences to that great conflict. Here, I was reminded that our differences stem as much from our failed attempt at Reconstruction following the war as from the war itself.

I can’t believe we came so close to resolving our racial failings only to entrench them. I firmly believe this period in history defines who we are today.

By David W. Blight,

Why should I read it?

3 authors 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…


Book cover of The Burning: The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

I was mesmerized and horrified by this 100th-anniversary recounting of the massacre. I didn’t just turn pages. I tore through the book, not believing that such a thing could happen in modern America.

The destruction of what was once considered a thriving Negro Wall Street and the slaughter of its people led me to an in-depth study of the Reconstruction riots a half-century before this one.

By Tim Madigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Essential reading as America finally comes to terms with its racial past.

When first published in 2001, society apparently wasn't ready for such an unstinting narrative. After it was published, The Burning, like its subject matter, remained unknown to most in America. That has changed dramatically.

"I began to suspect that a crucial piece remained missing from America's long attempts at racial reconciliation," Madigan wrote in 2001 in the author's note to The Burning. "Too many were oblivious to some of the darkest moments in our history, a legacy of which Tulsa is both a tragic example and a shameful…


Book cover of Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

I love biographies, and I particularly loved this one because it portrayed a brilliant, accomplished, but complicated soul. Here was a man, a rebel hardliner who was once Robert E. Lee’s sounding board and deeply respected throughout the defeated Confederacy.

I wanted to know why he defied the South, became good friends with President Grant, joined the Republican Party (Lincoln’s party), and became a supporter of Radical Reconstruction. As I read, I learned, and the learning fascinated me.

By Elizabeth Varon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography
American Battlefield Trust Prize for History Finalist

A "compelling portrait" (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize -winning author) of the controversial Confederate general who later embraced Reconstruction and became an outcast in the South.

It was the most remarkable political about-face in American history. During the Civil War, General James Longstreet fought tenaciously for the Confederacy. He was alongside Lee at Gettysburg (and counseled him not to order the ill-fated attacks on entrenched Union forces there). He won a major Confederate victory at Chickamauga and was seriously wounded during a later battle.

After the…


Book cover of Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction

John Poniske Author Of Snakebit: Prelude to War

From my list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Springfield, Illinois, what is considered Lincoln’s backyard. I grew up fascinated by history, and the Civil War in particular. The trouble was, its racial overtones always bothered me. Later in life, I became a high school history and journalism teacher and turned my interest in historical-based board gaming into a business I called Indulgent Wife Enterprises (because my wife is so incredibly supportive). To date, I have published 30 board games based mostly on American conflicts. When I retired, I began the ambitious project of writing a strongly researched account of the divisions leading up to the Civil War and through to the Reconstruction period that followed. 

John's book list on reflecting on our current cultural impasse

John Poniske Why did John love this book?

I live in an area that once held KKK rallies and parades. To this day, though much reduced, the Klan still manages to make its presence known.

I bought this book to better understand the complex cultural phenomenon that was the original Ku Klux Klan, also known as the Invisible Empire. I was pleased to learn of its origins and horrified by its unbridled violence. The Klan itself has long since been dispersed, but its bitter beliefs live on.

By Elaine Frantz Parsons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ku-Klux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive examination of the nineteenth-century Ku Klux Klan since the 1970s, Ku-Klux pinpoints the group's rise with startling acuity. Historians have traced the origins of the Klan to Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866, but the details behind the group's emergence have long remained shadowy. By parsing the earliest descriptions of the Klan, Elaine Frantz Parsons reveals that it was only as reports of the Tennessee Klan's mysterious and menacing activities began circulating in northern newspapers that whites enthusiastically formed their own Klan groups throughout the South. The spread of the Klan was thus intimately connected with the politics and…


Book cover of Gendered Strife and Confusion: The Political Culture of Reconstruction

Lee Ann Timreck Author Of Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller

From my list on the activism of African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm fascinated with material culture – studying the things we make and use – and what they tell us about our history. My particular passion is for nineteenth-century Black material culture, often the only tangible history of enslaved and newly-emancipated Black lives. The books on my list educated me of the historical realities for African Americans, from emancipation to Jim Crow – providing critical context for deciphering the stories embedded in historical artifacts. Overall, the gendered (and harrowing) history these books provide on the contributions of African-American women to civil rights and social justice should be required reading for everyone. 

Lee's book list on the activism of African American women

Lee Ann Timreck Why did Lee love this book?

The period after the Civil War known as Reconstruction has long been overlooked by historians and educators; even less has been written about this period from a gendered perspective.

Laura Edwards provides an excellent analysis of the experiences of newly-emancipated women in shaping and surviving the political, social, and economic landscape of Reconstruction. She studies their history through first-hand narratives of how they established households, pursued their legal rights, and claimed their new roles as free women.

The book is not only a fascinating read about Reconstruction, it helped contextualize Edmonia Lewis’s and Meta Fuller’s emancipation sculptures, and their message about the freedwoman’s new identity.

By Laura F. Edwards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gendered Strife and Confusion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring the gendered dimension of political conflicts, Laura Edwards links transformations in private and public life in the era following the Civil War. Ideas about men's and women's roles within households shaped the ways groups of southerners-elite and poor, whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans-envisioned the public arena and their own places in it. By using those on the margins to define the center, Edwards demonstrates that Reconstruction was a complicated process of conflict and negotiation that lasted long beyond 1877 and involved all southerners and every aspect of life.


Book cover of Cane

David G. Nicholls Author Of Conjuring the Folk: Forms of Modernity in African America

From my list on understanding the Great Black Migration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifelong reader and wanted to study literature from an early age. I grew up in Indianapolis, one of the cities reshaped by the Great Black Migration. I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago and found myself once again in the urban Midwest. My research for Conjuring the Folk led me to discover a trove of short stories by George Wylie Henderson, a Black writer from Alabama who migrated to Harlem. I edited the stories and published them as Harlem Calling: The Collected Stories of George Wylie Henderson. I'm a contributor to African American Review, the Journal of Modern Literature, and the Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration

David's book list on understanding the Great Black Migration

David G. Nicholls Why did David love this book?

Cane is an experimental, modernist work combining poetry, fictional vignettes, and dramatic dialogue as it portrays Black life in the sugar cane fields of the South and in the urban neighborhoods of recent migrants. I first read Cane while I was living in an apartment on the south side of Chicago, a destination for hundreds of thousands of Black migrants in the mid-twentieth century; the tracks of the Illinois Central railroad, their main transit route from the South, were just steps away from my home. The book drew my attention to the forces shaping my neighborhood, while it also led me to begin thinking about the connections between art and migration. It is a very lyrical and powerful book—and the subject of the second chapter of my book.

By Jean Toomer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1923, Jean Toomer's Cane is an innovative literary work-part drama, part poetry, part fiction-powerfully evoking black life in the South. Rich in imagery, Toomer's impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and urban life are permeated by visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and fire; the northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets. This iconic work of American literature is published with a new afterword by Rudolph Byrd of Emory University and Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University, who provide groundbreaking biographical information on Toomer, place his writing within the context of American…


Book cover of A Voice From the South

Helga Varden Author Of Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory

From my list on sex, love, and gender.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in philosophy, political science, and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), where I live with my wife. I have a PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto (Canada), an MA in philosophy from the University of Tromsø (Norway), a MSc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), and a BA(Hons) in Business Management from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK). One of the most important lessons from my first two degrees was that I love theory (about theories) and, so, those two degrees enabled me to find my way to philosophy, which I have been in love with since. 

Helga's book list on sex, love, and gender

Helga Varden Why did Helga love this book?

I only recently discovered the work of Anna J. Cooper, but I find myself reading and thinking about and with her a lot. She’s not an obvious philosophical love for me in that she never writes about LGBTQIA life and does write about men and women from a relatively conservative, Christian, cis, and straight point of view. However, Cooper gives voice to and insight into the struggles of Black women, and her work helps me, as someone who is both racialized as white and an immigrant to the US, perceive and feel important dimensions of the reality in which I now live.

Thus, in her writings about the things she knows about, I find a friend and a colleague as I’m trying to think about intersectional issues that go beyond the life I know first-personally.

By Anna J. Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Voice From the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book by Anna J. Cooper, A Voice From the South, presents strong ideals supporting racial and gender equality as well as economic progress. It's a forward-thinking narrative that highlights many disparities hindering the African American community.

Anna J. Cooper was an accomplished educator who used her influence to encourage and elevate African Americans. With A Voice From the South, she delivers a poignant analysis of the country's affairs as they relate to Black people, specifically Black women. She stresses the importance of education, which she sees as a great equalizer. Cooper considers it a necessary investment in not…


Book cover of The Portable Anna Julia Cooper

Sandrine Bergès Author Of Liberty in Their Names: The Women Philosophers of the French Revolution

From my list on by or about women philosophers you should know.

Why am I passionate about this?

At school I fell in love philosophy. But at university, as I grew older, I started to feel out of place: all the authors we read were men. I loved Plato, but there was something missing. It didn’t occur to me until I was in my thirties to look for women in the history of philosophy! I read Wollstonecraft first, then Olympe de Gouges, and the other women I wrote about in my book, and now I’m looking at women philosophers from the tenth to the nineteenth century. There is a wealth of work by women philosophers out there. Reading their works has made philosophy come alive for me, all over again. 

Sandrine's book list on by or about women philosophers you should know

Sandrine Bergès Why did Sandrine love this book?

Anna Julia Cooper is one of the nineteen and twentieth American philosophers I find most exciting.

Her book, A Voice from the South, is the first feminist book to introduce the idea of intersectionality! She spent her very long lifetime writing about education, women’s rights, racism, and she has a fascinating correspondence with the intellectuals of her time, including W.E.B Dubois.

But until recently getting hold of her writings wasn’t terribly easy, unless you were willing to read online, or had access to a good academic library.

This beautiful and cheap edition is a godsend and everyone should buy it. 

By Anna Julia Cooper, Shirley Moody-Turner (editor), Henry Louis Gates, Jr (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Portable Anna Julia Cooper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of essential writings from the iconic foremother of Black intellectual history, feminism and activism

The Portable Anna Julia Cooper will introduce a new generation of readers to an educator, public intellectual and community activist whose prescient insights and eloquent prose underlie some of the most important developments in modern American intellectual thought and African-American social and political activism.

This volume brings together, for the first time, Anna Julia Cooper's major collection of essays, A Voice from the South, along with several previously unpublished poems, plays, journalism and selected correspondences, including over thirty previously unpublished letters between Anna Julia…


Book cover of The Hidden Wound

Neta Jackson Author Of The Yada Yada Prayer Group

From my list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers.

Why am I passionate about this?

During college, I attended an inner-city black church during the years of the civil rights movement—and it changed the course of my life. My husband and I have lived in diverse neighborhoods and attended multicultural churches for most of our 56 years of marriage, realizing we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters of color. But the biggest influence that caused me to write the Yada Yada Prayer Group novels was/is the prayer group of sisters of color that I’ve been part of for over 25 years. As we spent time together every week for years (!), these sisters helped turn my life and my faith upside down—or maybe “right side up.”

Neta's book list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers

Neta Jackson Why did Neta love this book?

Two people who worked for Wendell Berry’s family when he was a child had a profound effect on his life—“Aunt Georgie” Ashby and Nick Watkins. With the simplicity of their lives birthing profound wisdom, Berry credits them for helping to expose the hidden wound of racism and putting his feet on a path to reject the deeply ingrained racism of his youth. The result is a deeply thoughtful book of reflections and wisdom on the cancer that infects our society and what we must do to lance and heal it—if we will. A “must read” on your bookshelf.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden Wound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An impassioned, thoughtful, and fearless essay on the effects of racism on the American identity by one of our country’s most humane literary voices.

Acclaimed as “one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time” (The Village Voice), The Hidden Wound is a book-length essay about racism and the damage it has done to the identity of our country. Through Berry’s personal experience, he explains how remaining passive in the face of the struggle of racism further corrodes America’s great potential. In a quiet and observant manner, Berry opens up about how his attempt to discuss racism is…


Book cover of Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South

Jillian Hishaw Author Of Systematic Land Theft

From my list on the history of land dispossession.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family’s farm was lost due to a dishonest lawyer that my great-grandmother entrusted. Because of that, I have devoted the past 20 years of my career to providing low-cost legal services to aging rural farmers around estate planning and civil rights. As an attorney, I have worked for the US Department of Agriculture and the Office of Civil Rights in Washington DC. I also founded the non-profit organization F.A.R.M.S., which provides services to aging rural farmers such as preventing farm foreclosures, executing wills, and securing purchase contracts. After drafting Systematic Land Theft over the span of several years, I am happy to release this historic synopsis documenting the land theft of Indigenous and Black communities. I have written extensively on the topics of agriculture, environmental, and land injustice in a variety of legal, trade, and other publications.

Jillian's book list on the history of land dispossession

Jillian Hishaw Why did Jillian love this book?

This book uses census data and other historical facts to highlight the 250,000 free blacks who were in the south post-Civil War. It shows the struggles black people faced in regards to their community, liberty, education, and economic independence inside an oppressive society. Berlin does a good job at depicting the interaction between Blacks and Whites both free and enslaved. He offers a better understanding of the complex race relations that existed in the south. He gives one of the best accounts on record, of the wealth black people accumulated during slavery and 20 years after despite the pushback they faced.

By Ira Belin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slaves Without Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prize-winning classic volume by acclaimed historian Ira Berlin is now available in a handsome new edition, with a new preface by the author. It is a moving portrait of the quarter of a million free black men and women who lived in the South before the Civil War and describes the social and economic struggles that were part of life within this oppressive society. It is an essential work for both educators and general readers. Berlin's books have won many prizes and he is widely recognized as one of the leading scholars on slavery and African American life.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the South, African Americans, and reconstruction era?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the South, African Americans, and reconstruction era.

The South Explore 183 books about the South
African Americans Explore 746 books about African Americans
Reconstruction Era Explore 19 books about reconstruction era