100 books like The Myth of the Lost Cause

By Edward H. Bonekemper,

Here are 100 books that The Myth of the Lost Cause fans have personally recommended if you like The Myth of the Lost Cause. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

I once stumbled onto a celebration of Confederate Memorial Day in a small Kentucky mountain town, but I had always been told that the mountains of eastern Kentucky were a stronghold of Unionism during the Civil War. McKnight’s book helped me understand the complexity of the Appalachian region and its experience of the war. Both armies used the mountain gaps as gateways to invasion, exploited the local residents, and despoiled the landscape. Life in the mountains in the 19th century had always been hard; the Civil War made it a lot harder.

By Brian D. McKnight,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 1861 to 1865, the border separating eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia was more than just a geographic marker -- it represented a major ideological split, serving as an "international" boundary between the United States and the Confederacy. The loyalties of those who lived in this mountainous region could not be so easily divided, and large segments of the population remained neutral or vacillated in their support. Location and a wealth of resources made the region strategically important to both sides in the conflict, and both armies fought for control. In Contested Borderland, Brian D. McKnight shows how military invasion…


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 Tara Revisited: Women, War, & the Plantation Legend

DeAnne Blanton Author Of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War

From my list on women in the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

DeAnne Blanton retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC after 31 years of service as a reference archivist specializing in 18th and 19th century U.S. Army records. She was recognized within the National Archives as well as in the historical and genealogical communities as a leading authority on the American Civil War; 19th century women’s history; and the history of American women in the military.

DeAnne's book list on women in the Civil War

DeAnne Blanton Why did DeAnne love this book?

This book completely debunks every romantic Old South and Lost Cause myth. Relying on a plethora of primary sources, especially letters and diaries, Clinton reveals the real and often heartbreaking lives of white plantation women and black enslaved women. Always an engaging writer, Clinton narrates the deep and troubled subject with empathy and a level hand. 

By Catherine Clinton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining period photographs and illustrations with documentary sources, this work relates the story of southern women during the American Civil War: the African-American women who struggled for freedom; the nurses who faced gruesome duties; and the women who spied and died for the Confederacy.


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 Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

To outsiders, Kentucky is clearly part of the South. For those of us who live here—especially those who know a little about the state’s history—it can be a little more nebulous. Phillips’ book helps explain why. Kentucky had a lot in common with its fellow states of the first West like Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and those northern states could be a lot more “southern” than commonly understood. Phillips’s book shows how the Civil War remade those regional boundaries, turning the Ohio River into a line of separation between “North” and “South.”

By Christopher Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Most Americans believe that the Ohio River was a clearly defined and static demographic and political boundary between North and South, an extension of the Mason-Dixon Line. Once settled, the new states west of the Appalachians - the slave states of Kentucky and Missouri and of the free states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas - formed a fixed boundary between freedom and slavery, extending the border that inevitably produced the war. None of this is true,
except perhaps the outcome of war. But the centrality of the Civil War and its outcome in the making of these tropes is…


Book cover of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

When I moved to Kentucky many years ago, the large Confederate memorial on a downtown street was a puzzle to me because I knew that Kentucky had been a Union state. As one historian said many years ago, “Kentucky seceded after the war was over.” Marshall’s book walks us through that process. She covers everything from politics to postwar violence to children’s literature to the resistance efforts of Kentucky’s African Americans as she explains why those Confederate memorials and monuments went up all around the state. 

By Anne E. Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creating a Confederate Kentucky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historian E. Merton Coulter famously said that Kentucky ""waited until after the war was over to secede from the Union."" In this fresh study, Anne E. Marshall traces the development of a Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1925 that belied the fact that Kentucky never left the Union and that more Kentuckians fought for the North than for the South. Following the Civil War, the people of Kentucky appeared to forget their Union loyalties, embracing the Democratic politics, racial violence, and Jim Crow laws associated with formerly Confederate states. Although, on the surface, white Confederate memory appeared to…


Book cover of Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880

Brad Asher Author Of The Most Hated Man in Kentucky: The Lost Cause and the Legacy of Union General Stephen Burbridge

From my list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian based in Louisville, Kentucky. When I moved here two decades ago, I could tell the vibe was different than other places I had been. Southern—but not like Tennessee. Midwestern—but not like Illinois. So I started reading, and eventually writing, about the state’s history. I have a Ph.D. in United States history so I lean toward academic books. I like authors who dig into the primary sources of history and then come out and make an argument about the evidence that they uncovered. I also lean toward social and cultural history—rather than military history—of the Civil War.

Brad's book list on the Civil War and the Lost Cause in Kentucky

Brad Asher Why did Brad love this book?

I have long been interested in the history of US religion but a lot of religious history can be, well, boring. Harlow’s book is not. People interested in the Civil War often forget about the role religious belief played in the lives of 19th-century Americans, preferring to focus on military strategy or the politics of emancipation and Reconstruction. Harlow’s book foregrounds religion and shows how pro-slavery theology united Kentuckians even as they split over the war. And how that same theology helps explain why they turned their back on their wartime Unionism and embraced the Lost Cause version of events.

By Luke E. Harlow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book sheds new light on the role of religion in the nineteenth-century slavery debates. Luke E. Harlow argues that the ongoing conflict over the meaning of Christian 'orthodoxy' constrained the political and cultural horizons available for defenders and opponents of American slavery. The central locus of these debates was Kentucky, a border slave state with a long-standing antislavery presence. Although white Kentuckians famously cast themselves as moderates in the period and remained with the Union during the Civil War, their religious values showed no moderation on the slavery question. When the war ultimately brought emancipation, white Kentuckians found themselves…


Book cover of A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States

William C. Davis Author Of An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government

From my list on the politics of the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the early days of the Confederacy to be fascinating, a chance to look at Americans in the act of nation-making while surrounded by fear and crisis. Far more than in the convention of 1776, this episode offers sources that allow us to look inside their motives, and to evaluate them both as impractical rebels, and social and political idealists [albeit their idealism was always encased within the confines of a slave society]. Having written biographies of Jefferson Davis, Alexander H Stephens, Robert Toombs, and other Confederate politicians, this subject is a natural object of my interest. While I do not at all agree with or endorse the political measures they took in the secession crisis, I can feel some empathy for them and their people who felt themselves caught in a no-win position, facing [in their view] the possible destruction of their economy, society, and culture.

William's book list on the politics of the Confederacy

William C. Davis Why did William love this book?

Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander "Little Alec" Stephens was the real "Little Giant" of mid-century politics. His 2-volume apologia for secession is not an easy read, but it is a fountainhead for the thinking that would inform "Lost Cause" mythology for more than a century. The very title gave future "Lost Cause" adherents their mantra of it being a "war between the states," and not a civil war. Stephens is argumentative, at times fustian and slow going, but what he has to say is essential to getting into the mind of the men who made secession happen, and how they sought to justify it after 1865.

By Alexander H. Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States 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 was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

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…


Book cover of The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics

William C. Davis Author Of An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government

From my list on the politics of the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the early days of the Confederacy to be fascinating, a chance to look at Americans in the act of nation-making while surrounded by fear and crisis. Far more than in the convention of 1776, this episode offers sources that allow us to look inside their motives, and to evaluate them both as impractical rebels, and social and political idealists [albeit their idealism was always encased within the confines of a slave society]. Having written biographies of Jefferson Davis, Alexander H Stephens, Robert Toombs, and other Confederate politicians, this subject is a natural object of my interest. While I do not at all agree with or endorse the political measures they took in the secession crisis, I can feel some empathy for them and their people who felt themselves caught in a no-win position, facing [in their view] the possible destruction of their economy, society, and culture.

William's book list on the politics of the Confederacy

William C. Davis Why did William love this book?

This is the first, and still really the only, thorough study of the political life of the seceded states when they formed their new Confederacy. It is an eye-opener as to what those founders envisioned for their new republic, revealing them as more than just reactionary rebels. While never downplaying the central role of slavery and its concomitant issues in bringing about secession, Rable also shows the flashes of political idealism in the minds of some who thought they would be perfecting what was begun in 1776.

By George C. Rable,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this investigation of Confederate political culture, George Rable focuses on the assumptions, values, and beliefs that formed the foundation of Confederate political ideology. He shows how southerners attempted to purify the political process and avoid what they saw as the evils of parties and partisanship. According to Rable, secession marked the beginning of a revolution against politics, in which the Confederacy's founding fathers saw themselves as the true heirs of the American Revolution. Nevertheless, factionalism developed within the Confederacy as the war dragged on, and the conflict carried over from the strictly political sphere to matters of military strategy,…


Book cover of Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy From Birth to Death: From Original Notes, Collated in the Years 1861 to 1865

William C. Davis Author Of An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government

From my list on the politics of the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I find the early days of the Confederacy to be fascinating, a chance to look at Americans in the act of nation-making while surrounded by fear and crisis. Far more than in the convention of 1776, this episode offers sources that allow us to look inside their motives, and to evaluate them both as impractical rebels, and social and political idealists [albeit their idealism was always encased within the confines of a slave society]. Having written biographies of Jefferson Davis, Alexander H Stephens, Robert Toombs, and other Confederate politicians, this subject is a natural object of my interest. While I do not at all agree with or endorse the political measures they took in the secession crisis, I can feel some empathy for them and their people who felt themselves caught in a no-win position, facing [in their view] the possible destruction of their economy, society, and culture.

William's book list on the politics of the Confederacy

William C. Davis Why did William love this book?

It is one of the best first-person accounts we have of the adolescent days of the Confederacy in Montgomery, AL. De Leon is a fine writer who provides great pen portraits of the people involved, endless anecdotal detail on political and social life among the founders and their Montgomery hosts, and some penetrating insights into the jealousies and rivalries that helped to cripple their efforts from the outset.

By Thomas C. DeLeon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Four Years in Rebel Capitals 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 was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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