100 books like Troubled Refuge

By Chandra Manning,

Here are 100 books that Troubled Refuge fans have personally recommended if you like Troubled Refuge. 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 Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

Randy E. Barnett Author Of A Life for Liberty: The Making of an American Originalist

From my list on slavery and the constitution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading about antislavery constitutionalism literally changed my life. Lysander Spooner’s 1845 book, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, which I discovered in the 1990s, exposed me to a version of “originalism” that would really work. This was also a version of originalism that was not just for political conservatives. This led me from being primarily a contract law professor to a constitutional originalist who would argue in the Supreme Court, develop the theory of originalism, and work to achieve an originalist majority of Supreme Court justices. By reading these five books, you, too, can become an expert on antislavery constitutionalism and our forgotten constitutional past.

Randy's book list on slavery and the constitution

Randy E. Barnett Why did Randy love this book?

This book opened my eyes to the effectiveness and consistency of the Republicans elected to Congress in 1860 in advancing their antislavery agenda, for example, by immediately abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia and requiring any new states to prohibit slavery in their Constitutions.

This book describes the earnestness with which these members of the Senate and House pursued their antislavery agenda over the vehement objections of the Democrats from states that had remained in the Union. At the same time, they were quite sensitive to the defects in the original Constitution that had permitted slavery within any of the original 13 states that had retained it. So, they amended the Constitution not once but three times to put an end to slavery and establish political equality in the United States. 

By James Oakes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims-"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"-were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.

By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and…


Book cover of The Women's Fight: The Civil War's Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation

Nancy A. Hewitt Author Of Radical Friend: Amy Kirby Post and Her Activist Worlds

From my list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US.

Why am I passionate about this?

In Rochester, New York, where I was raised, Susan Anthony and Frederick Douglass are local heroes. But in the late 1960s, I was drawn more to grassroots movements than charismatic leaders. Despite dropping out of college—twice—I completed a B.A. in 1974 and then pursued a PhD in History. My 1981 dissertation and first book focused on three networks of mainly white female activists in nineteenth-century Rochester. Of the dozens of women I studied, Amy Post most clearly epitomized the power of interracial, mixed-sex, and cross-class movements for social justice. After years of inserting Post in articles, textbooks, and websites, I finally published Radical Friend in hopes of inspiring scholars and activists to follow her lead. 

Nancy's book list on racial politics and women’s activism in the US

Nancy A. Hewitt Why did Nancy love this book?

Thavolia Glymph analyzes the many ways that women—white and Black, enslaved and free, North and South—sought to promote or constrain the radical transformations promised by the Civil War. She interweaves well-known stories of white nurses and teachers and northern white feminists who labored to expand their claims on the nation with the lesser-known efforts of free, fugitive, and self-emancipated Black women and poor and working-class white women to ensure that the war led to greater liberty. Even some plantation mistresses became more politically active in efforts to impede Union military campaigns. This powerful book expands our concept of activism, forcing us to rethink its many meanings, sites, and goals in times of crisis. 

By Thavolia Glymph,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Women's Fight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historians of the Civil War often speak of "wars within a war--the military fight, wartime struggles on the home front, and the political and moral battle to preserve the Union and end slavery. In this broadly conceived book, Thavolia Glymph provides a comprehensive new history of women's roles and lives in the Civil War--North and South, white and black, slave and free--showing how women were essentially and fully engaged in all three arenas. Glymph focuses on the ideas and ideologies that drove women's actions, allegiances, and politics. We encounter women as they stood their ground, moved into each other's territory,…


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 Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction

John C. Rodrigue Author Of Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley

From my list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian who has always been fascinated by the problem of slavery in American history. Although a “Yankee” by birth and upbringing, I have also always been drawn to the history of the American South—probably because it runs so counter to the dominant narrative of U.S. history. My childhood interest in history—especially in wars, and the Civil War in particular—was transformed in college into a serious engagement with the causes and consequences of the Civil War. I pursued this interest in undertaking graduate study, and I have devoted my entire scholarly career to the examination of slavery and emancipation—and their consequences for today.

John's book list on emancipation during the U.S. Civil War

John C. Rodrigue Why did John love this book?

Jim Downs offers an essential corrective to the view of emancipation as a kind of liberal or progressive “triumphalist narrative.” Downs approaches the illness and death that the freed people suffered during and after the Civil War as a major public health crisis. He does not question the historical necessity or the morality of emancipation, but he shows that the disruptions and chaos that attended emancipation—often exacerbated by federal policy—also resulted in immeasurable human suffering and countless deaths. Historians have long recognized that emancipation was a messy affair. But what I find especially compelling is that Downs raises the question of whether the hardship caused by federal emancipation policy was intrinsic to that policy (however unintentional) or incidental—what we might call today “collateral damage.”

By Jim Downs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bondspeople who fled from slavery during and after the Civil War did not expect that their flight toward freedom would lead to sickness, disease, suffering, and death. But the war produced the largest biological crisis of the nineteenth century, and as historian Jim Downs reveals in this groundbreaking volume, it had deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands of freed people.
In Sick from Freedom, Downs recovers the untold story of one of the bitterest ironies in American history-that the emancipation of the slaves, seen as one of the great turning points in U.S. history, had devastating consequences for innumerable freedpeople.…


Book cover of A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War

Dwight Sturtevant Hughes Author Of Unlike Anything That Ever Floated: The Monitor and Virginia and the Battle of Hampton Roads, March 8-9, 1862

From my list on the naval history of the American Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lover of the sea, ships, seamen, and their histories, particularly of navies in the Civil War. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy (1967) with a history major, I served twenty years as a surface warfare officer (ship driver) on most oceans in ships ranging from destroyer to aircraft carrier and with river forces in Vietnam. I earned an M.A. in Political Science and an M.S. in Information Systems Management. Now as a historian, author, and speaker, I’m committed to communicating our naval heritage in an educational and entertaining manner for old hands and new generations. Writing about ships is the next best thing to driving them.

Dwight's book list on the naval history of the American Civil War

Dwight Sturtevant Hughes Why did Dwight love this book?

Although the Civil War was principally a land conflict, naval contributions were fundamental, not just peripheral or supporting. This excellent operational and campaign overview examines social, political, and technological revolutions in Western warfare leading to and through the struggle. It deals primarily with terrestrial warfare, but unlike many such works, places waterborne operations in context and gives the navy its due. Steam propulsion and industrial superiority produced massive Union naval power for a strangling blockade, fortress-busting warship squadrons, and an unprecedented riverine fleet. The Confederacy’s coasts and seaports constituted a third major theater while in the west, rivers were avenues of invasion and conquest. Chapter 5 contains a cogent discussion of “The Unfulfilled Promise of Joint [Army-Navy] Operations.” Highly recommended as a well-integrated military-naval history.

By Williamson Murray, Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How the Civil War changed the face of war

The Civil War represented a momentous change in the character of war. It combined the projection of military might across a continent on a scale never before seen with an unprecedented mass mobilization of peoples. Yet despite the revolutionizing aspects of the Civil War, its leaders faced the same uncertainties and vagaries of chance that have vexed combatants since the days of Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. A Savage War sheds critical new light on this defining chapter in military history.

In a masterful narrative that propels readers from the first…


Book cover of Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era

Drew A. Swanson Author Of Remaking Wormsloe Plantation: The Environmental History of a Lowcountry Landscape

From my list on why American parks look the way they do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up a farm kid and then worked as a park ranger fresh out of college. This background draws me to the history of American preservation, where so much that seems natural also has deep cultural roots. I find the American South—with its combination of irony and tragedy, beauty, and flaws—the most fascinating place on earth to study. Or maybe I’m just pulling for the home team.

Drew's book list on why American parks look the way they do

Drew A. Swanson Why did Drew love this book?

What does it mean that tourists are attracted to sites of historical enslavement? And why are ghost tours, especially tours focused on horrific stories of the abuse suffered by female slaves, so popular? Miles uses the seemingly frivolous subject of ghost tourism to explore serious issues of American memory and historical sites. Injecting herself into the story—she visits house museums and historical districts in Savannah, New Orleans, and Louisiana’s Mississippi River plantation district to explore the nation’s pathological attraction to a sordid past—she gracefully restored humanity to history’s victims with her gentle empathy.

By Tiya Miles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tales from the Haunted South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book Tiya Miles explores the popular yet troubling phenomenon of ""ghost tours,"" frequently promoted and experienced at plantations, urban manor homes, and cemeteries throughout the South. As a staple of the tours, guides entertain paying customers by routinely relying on stories of enslaved black specters. But who are these ghosts? Examining popular sites and stories from these tours, Miles shows that haunted tales routinely appropriate and skew African American history to produce representations of slavery for commercial gain. ""Dark tourism"" often highlights the most sensationalist and macabre aspects of slavery, from salacious sexual ties between white masters and…


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 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 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 Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood: African American Children in the Antebellum North

Frances Clarke and Rebecca Jo Plant Author Of Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in Civil War America

From my list on childhood in Civil War Era America.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are two historians who have been writing together for about a decade now, first on project related to race relations after WWI, then on a book about debates over the enlistment age in nineteenth century America. Rebecca teaches at UCSD while Frances works at the University of Sydney in Australia, but we regularly meet online to write together and talk about our favorite new books.

Frances' book list on childhood in Civil War Era America

Frances Clarke and Rebecca Jo Plant Why did Frances love this book?

Historians have charted the long, slow process of emancipation in Northern states. But no one has looked before at how children fared during this process. Webster’s ground-breaking work shows that it was virtually impossible for Black children in ostensibly free states to escape politics: as individuals living in a racist society, and as symbols of African Americans’ future, whatever they did or said was invariably surveilled, dissected, and judged. Racist thinking and racialised structures also severely curtailed freedom for the young.

Many Black Northern children were indentured or bound out, often in exploitative labor arrangements that restricted future possibilities. Others were confined to institutions like reformatories or orphanages, usually segregated based on pseudoscientific understandings of race that marked Black children as deviant, violent, or inferior. Circumventing the way Black suffering has been obscured in historical records, Webster manages to piece together archival fragments that show widespread victimization of Black children…

By Crystal Lynn Webster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For all that is known about the depth and breadth of African American history, we still understand surprisingly little about the lives of African American children, particularly those affected by northern emancipation. But hidden in institutional records, school primers and penmanship books, biographical sketches, and unpublished documents is a rich archive that reveals the social and affective worlds of northern Black children. Drawing evidence from the urban centers of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Crystal Webster's innovative research yields a powerful new history of African American childhood before the Civil War. Webster argues that young African Americans were frequently left…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the American Civil War, Slavery, and African Americans?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the American Civil War, Slavery, and African Americans.

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