100 books like The Life of Johnny Reb

By Bell Irvin Wiley,

Here are 100 books that The Life of Johnny Reb fans have personally recommended if you like The Life of Johnny Reb. 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 The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861

Gary W. Gallagher Author Of The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis

From my list on the Civil War era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been captivated by the era of the American Civil War since I was ten years old at the beginning of the conflict’s centennial. I have taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia. I have written, co-written, or edited more than 40 books on the subject. The compelling personalities, dramatic events, and profoundly important issues at stake compel my continuing attention to the war, its antecedents, and its short- and long-term impact. I recommend five classic titles on the Civil War era (one a trilogy, one a two-volume set, and three single volumes) that will reward readers in the third decade of the 21st Century.

Gary's book list on the Civil War era

Gary W. Gallagher Why did Gary love this book?

David M. Potter’s The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (1976; winner of a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for History) remains, after nearly half-a-century, the best narrative on the coming of the Civil War. It brims with perceptive analysis and very usefully instructs readers about history’s vexing complications. Completed after Potter’s death by his colleague at Stanford Don E. Fehrenbacher, the engaging text forcefully reminds readers to keep in mind the contingent nature of politics and to avoid assuming events had to play out as they did. Part of the period’s complexity lay in the fact that although the crisis of 1860-1861 had everything to do with slavery’s powerful influence over American political affairs, the increasingly heated rhetoric of the secession winter did not focus on whether the nation would keep or jettison the institution. Four years of war answered that fundamental question.

By David M. Potter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David M. Potter's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Impending Crisis is the definitive history of antebellum America. Potter's sweeping epic masterfully charts the chaotic forces that climaxed with the outbreak of the Civil War: westward expansion, the divisive issue of slavery, the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's uprising, the ascension of Abraham Lincoln, and the drama of Southern secession. Now available in a new edition, The Impending Crisis remains one of the most celebrated works of American historical writing.


Book cover of Mr. Lincoln's Army

Gary W. Gallagher Author Of The Enduring Civil War: Reflections on the Great American Crisis

From my list on the Civil War era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been captivated by the era of the American Civil War since I was ten years old at the beginning of the conflict’s centennial. I have taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia. I have written, co-written, or edited more than 40 books on the subject. The compelling personalities, dramatic events, and profoundly important issues at stake compel my continuing attention to the war, its antecedents, and its short- and long-term impact. I recommend five classic titles on the Civil War era (one a trilogy, one a two-volume set, and three single volumes) that will reward readers in the third decade of the 21st Century.

Gary's book list on the Civil War era

Gary W. Gallagher Why did Gary love this book?

Bruce Catton introduced untold readers from the early 1950s through the 1970s to the Civil War. His Army of the Potomac Trilogy—Mr. Lincoln’s Army (1951), Glory Road (1952), and A Stillness at Appomattox (1953; winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History)—provided a compelling narrative of the most important Union army’s soldiers and officers. Catton excelled at creating incisive biographical portraits of figures such as George B. McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant, as well as at evoking the attitudes and experiences of soldiers in the ranks. The trilogy also seamlessly connected events on the battlefield to politics and social developments, a crucial factor in telling the story of how a democratic republic waged a transformative military conflict.

By Bruce Catton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Lincoln's Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Desertion During the Civil War

Lesley J. Gordon Author Of A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War

From my list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been reading, researching, writing, and teaching Civil War military history for nearly thirty years. I first became interested in soldiers and their experiences as a teen, and went on to earn a PhD in American History at the University of Georgia. I’ve always been fascinated by the anti-hero, and the ways in which everyday people coped (or failed to cope) with this violent conflict. I am currently writing a book about regiments accused of cowardice and how those searing allegations cast a shadow over their military record. From 2010-2015, I served as editor of the scholarly journal Civil War History, and I was recently elected President of the Society for Civil War Historians (2022-2024).

Lesley's book list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it

Lesley J. Gordon Why did Lesley love this book?

Despite this book’s age—almost a century in print—it still stands as a seminal work on an important topic: desertion and its devastating effects on both armies. Lonn was born in 1879 in Indiana, and earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the few female historians at the time to do so. She was not immune to the racism of her day nor the cloying ideology of the Lost Cause, yet she told her readers she wanted to understand “the ugly and sordid sides of war.” Her book offers readers a wealth of information and insight to better understand the myriad of reasons why soldiers deserted.

By Dr. Ella Lonn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Desertion During the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Desertion during the Civil War, originally published in 1928, remains the only book-length treatment of its subject. Ella Lonn examines the causes and consequences of desertion from both the Northern and Southern armies. Drawing on official war records, she notes that one in seven enlisted Union soldiers and one in nine Confederate soldiers deserted.

Lonn discusses many reasons for desertion common to both armies, among them lack of such necessities as food, clothing, and equipment; weariness and discouragement; noncommitment and resentment of coercion; and worry about loved ones at home. Some Confederate deserters turned outlaw, joining ruffian bands in the…


Book cover of Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

Charlotte Hinger Author Of Nicodemus

From my list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a multi-award-winning novelist and Kansas historian. Through reading letters written by African Americans in Kansas, I realized that black people were a major political force. In fact, with the settlement of Nicodemus, for the first time in American history, enough black people had gathered in one place to dominate political decisions and prevail over the white community. No one had told the story of the three black powerhouses who shaped politics on a county, state, and national level. I was thrilled when University of Oklahoma Press published my academic book. It won second place in the Westerner’s International Best Book contest.

Charlotte's book list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War

Charlotte Hinger Why did Charlotte love this book?

W.E.B Du Bois’s magnificent contribution to Post-Reconstrucion history put a stop to the notion that blacks were lightweights when it came to academia. Du Bois is a careful historian but doesn’t hesitate to speak from a black agenda. I’m well aware that this book supports my own ideas that blacks were a force in settling the West, but still, the truth will come out. Black people exerted extraordinary political influence. Du Bois, was a serious scholar, with impeccable credentials, and the founder of the NAACP. This man can write! I’m envious of his matchless ability to present history. 

By W.E.B. Du Bois,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du
Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.

Black Reconstruction in America tells and interprets the story of…


Book cover of Confederates

Judith Mitchell Author Of Boville

From my list on courageous little girls who change their world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an unfocused history omnivore, a perpetual student of many disparate subjects, and a visual artist. My childhood dream was to become an archaeologist, but by the time I reached graduate school I‘d become incapable of committing to one specific epoch. I’ve explored ancient times on my own. The older I get, the farther back in time my interests reach. As another interest of mine is mythology, the first book on my list is the answer to this manqué archaeologist’s/mythologist’s prayer. I‘ve recently written and illustrated a story taking place around 15,000 years ago, involving the painted caves in Europe. I ascribe these powerful images to a Paleolithic spirituality which I deeply enjoyed “creating.”

Judith's book list on courageous little girls who change their world

Judith Mitchell Why did Judith love this book?

Keneally’s novel, Confederates, stands out among other good Civil War novels. His Twain-like vernacular writing style brings the reader into his characters’ minds remarkably well.

Having lived for 6 years in the South, I find the landscapes familiar and the inflections and attitudes very relatable. Without necessarily identifying with Johnny Reb morally, I slog through icy mud with the threadbare Rebels, survive another day and a half without food, see comrades perish from various causes, and find desolation everywhere. It’s all painfully vivid. I empathize with these Boys in Grey; they are the grunts next to whom we readers march, fight, and starve. While I remain critical - horrified - at the South’s indefensible motives, I’m grateful for my intimate acquaintance with those who fought and died for their homes.

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thomas Keneally's epic of the Civil War takes us into the lives of four remarkable characters in the embattled Virginia summer of 1862; a southern hospital matron who is also a Union spy, a British war journalist with access to both sides and two foot soldiers under Stonewall Jackson.


Book cover of Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

Few images of the Confederacy are as enduring as that of the selfless sacrificing and unbounded enthusiasm of southern women for the Confederate cause. This groundbreaking study peels away this mythic image to reveal the conflicted feelings of elite white women as they struggled to cope with a crush of new responsibilities for which they were ill-prepared and longed for the return of their husbands and sons. The letters they sent President Davis and their men in the war registered a growing disillusionment with the Confederacy and a yearning to return to the comfort of their pre-war privileged positions.

By Drew Gilpin Faust,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Confederate men marched off to battle, southern women struggled with the new responsibilities of directing farms and plantations, providing for families, and supervising increasingly restive slaves. Drew Faust offers a compelling picture of the more than half-million women who belonged to the slaveholding families of the Confederacy during this period of acute crisis, when every part of these women's lives became vexed and uncertain.


Book cover of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Cathal J. Nolan Author Of Mercy: Humanity in War

From my list on how wars are won and lost.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning teacher and writer who introduces students and readers to war in a profession that today is at best indifferent to military history, and more often hostile. That gives me a wry sense of irony, as colleagues would rather teach about fashion than fascism and truffles over tragedy. Having written a multiple award-winning book that covered 2,000 years of war, frankly I was sickened by how the same mistakes were made over and again. It has made me devoted to exploring possibilities for humane behavior within the most inhumane and degraded moral environment humanity creates; where individuality is subsumed in collective violence and humanity is obscured as a faceless, merciless enemy.

Cathal's book list on how wars are won and lost

Cathal J. Nolan Why did Cathal love this book?

Beautifully written masterwork on one of the most important wars of the 19th century. It takes the reader from the experience of ordinary soldiers in battle to key debates around the cabinet table, in a rare display of dexterity and understanding of all levels of war. You will enter Grant’s HQ from where he ran the critical Western theater of operations and sit across from Lincoln as he makes the key decision for a hard war that let the Union maximize its resources and win. And you will walk into Lee’s HQ where the Confederacy lost the war in bursts of Southern hubris that led to two ill-conceived invasions of the North that provoked the final crushing.  

By James M. McPherson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Battle Cry of Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now featuring a new Afterword by the author, this handy paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom is without question the definitive one-volume history of the Civil War.
James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. From there it moves into…


Book cover of Shiloh

Terry Roberts Author Of That Bright Land

From my list on that will bring the American Civil War alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a native of the mountains of Western North Carolina. My direct ancestors include six generations of mountain farmers, as well as the bootleggers, preachers, and soldiers who appear in my novels. These generations include at least six family members who fought in the Civil War. I came to understand that the war itself began primarily over slavery, one of the most shameful and hideous aspects of our history. As a reader, I admire the complexity and power of these novels. As a writer, I sought to create a story of my own that offered a form of narrative healing to those, Black and white, who suffered through the horrific years of the war. 

Terry's book list on that will bring the American Civil War alive

Terry Roberts Why did Terry love this book?

Shiloh is an early novel by writer and historian, Shelby Foote, that recounts the story of this bloody battle through multiple perspectives—both Union and Confederate. Foote does a masterful job of portraying how the lives of the various narrators are interrelated, especially the lives of those in each of the armies. In addition, he illuminates just how crazed and violent the experience of the battle itself was—in contrast to the often quite rational, even humane men who fought it. The success of Shiloh also led to Foote writing his monumental three-volume The Civil War: A Narrative and playing a starring role in Ken Burns’ documentary on the war. 

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…


Book cover of Time of Drums

Terry Roberts Author Of That Bright Land

From my list on that will bring the American Civil War alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a native of the mountains of Western North Carolina. My direct ancestors include six generations of mountain farmers, as well as the bootleggers, preachers, and soldiers who appear in my novels. These generations include at least six family members who fought in the Civil War. I came to understand that the war itself began primarily over slavery, one of the most shameful and hideous aspects of our history. As a reader, I admire the complexity and power of these novels. As a writer, I sought to create a story of my own that offered a form of narrative healing to those, Black and white, who suffered through the horrific years of the war. 

Terry's book list on that will bring the American Civil War alive

Terry Roberts Why did Terry love this book?

Time of Drums is a personal favorite of mine because it explores the Civil War through the first-person voice of Colonel Owen Wright, who is a native of the mountains of Western North Carolina, my own birthplace and home. Ehle masterfully interweaves the story of Wright’s career in the Confederate army with the volatile and tragic events on the home front in the Southern mountains. In addition, the national conflicts are simultaneously played out in the private lives of the characters in a deeply personal and moving way. Time of Drums is one of the most underrated Civil War novels and deserves a much wider readership. My own civil war book, That Bright Land, was dedicated to John Ehle for this reason.

By John Ehle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

John Ehle's classic civil war novel, Tome of Drums, returns to print as a Press 53 Classic. Book three in his seven-book Appalachian series. Borden Deal said: "There have been many books about the Civil War; none of them, with the exception of The Red Badge of Courage, have comes close to the dusty, bloody, grinding truth that John Ehle writes about. Time of Drums is not only the story of men launched into a war with uncertain loyalties, but more important, it continues the Wright saga that John Ehle began with The Land Breakers and promises to expand into…


Book cover of The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

Here is the best introduction to how the Confederacy transformed itself into a mirror image of the South’s traditional portrayal as a static agricultural society based on states’ rights. To meet the demands of waging the Civil War, the Confederacy underwent rapid industrialization and urbanization directed by a strong centralized bureaucracy in Richmond. New and expanded roles opened up for southern women challenging the prerogatives of male patriarchy. How many of these changes would have become permanent had the Confederacy survived is an open question, but the Confederacy decidedly was not an extension of the Old South.

By Emory M. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The purpose of this book is to show that the Confederacy not only enacted an external revolution (in terms of its war with the Union), but that it also experienced a very significant internal revolution. Provides an explaination of what things within Southern society were revolutionized and in what ways.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Confederate States of America, military, and the American Civil War.

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