The most recommended Fort Sumter books

Who picked these books? Meet our 7 experts.

7 authors created a book list connected to Fort Sumter, and here are their favorite Fort Sumter books.
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Book cover of The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War

Edward T. Linenthal Author Of Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields

From my list on American battlefields.

Who am I?

I remember well my first visit to Gettysburg on a high school trip. I had trouble expressing what I felt until I read the words of a battlefield guide who said that he often sensed a “brooding omnipresence.” I have often felt such presences across the historic landscape in the U.S. and elsewhere. I am now Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University, and former editor of the Journal Of American History. I have also written Preserving Memory: The Struggle To Create America’s Holocaust Museum; The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City In American Memory, and co-edited American Sacred Space; History Wars: The Enola Gay And Other Battles For The American Past; and Landscapes Of 9/11: A Photographer’s Journey.

Edward's book list on American battlefields

Edward T. Linenthal Why did Edward love this book?

Historian Mark M. Smith is one of the pioneers of the truly exciting field of sensory history. Smith’s book is a model for how the next generations of historians can expand our understanding of the power and spectacle of war through a focus on all the senses. Smith’s chapters pick a particular sense at a particular Civil War site—my favorite is “Cornelia Hancock’s Sense of Smell,” which helps us appreciate how the assaults of transgressive smells lasted far beyond the three days of combat at Gettysburg.  Each chapter is carefully crafted to illustrate how an assault of the senses threatened the stability of what registered as “civilization” for the Civil War generation. After reading several of Smith’s books, I found myself much more attentive to the sensory dimension of any historical experience. Early in my tenure as editor of the Journal Of American History, I asked Smith to be…

By Mark M. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historical accounts of major events have almost always relied upon what those who were there witnessed. Nowhere is this truer than in the nerve-shattering chaos of warfare, where sight seems to confer objective truth and acts as the basis of reconstruction. In The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege, historian Mark M. Smith considers how all five senses, including sight, shaped the experience of the Civil War and thus its memory, exploring its full sensory
impact on everyone from the soldiers on the field to the civilians waiting at home.

From the eardrum-shattering barrage of shells announcing the outbreak…

Book cover of Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln

Garry Wills Author Of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America

From my list on Abraham Lincoln, his life, and his words.

Who am I?

In high school (the best time for doing this) I read the first two volumes of Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln. A year or so later I made my first trip on an airplane (Saint Louis to Detroit) and an easily recognizable Sandburg was one of the few passengers on our small commercial prop-plane. I was too shy to approach him, but I did sidle up the aisle to see what he was reading or writing (nothing that I could make out). He had boarded the plane alone, but there was a small party meeting him when we landed. I suppose it was Sandburg’s poetic approach to Lincoln that made me alert to the President’s astonishing feel for the English language.

Garry's book list on Abraham Lincoln, his life, and his words

Garry Wills Why did Garry love this book?

People known for witty sayings or informative stories – think Mark Twain and Dorothy Parker, or Yogi Berra and Samuel Goldwyn – tend to have any such items foisted on them. Lincoln, who was a genuine purveyor of funny and biting remarks is a victim of this form of theft in reverse. Any pointed or funny words get more dignity or heft if attributed to him. It is amazing how many such pseudo quotes are collected and sifted by the Fehrenbachers. There is a whole false American history that could be woven together from these fakes.

By Don E. Fehrenbacher (editor), Virginia Fehrenbacher (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive collection of remarks attributed to Abraham Lincoln by his contemporaries. Much of what is known or believed about the man comes from such utterances, which have been an important part of Lincoln biography. About his mother, for instance, he never wrote anything beyond supplying a few routine facts, but he can be quoted as stating orally that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Virginia aristocrat. Similarly, there is no mention of Ann Rutledge in any of his writings, but he can be quoted as saying when he was president-elect, "I did honestly and truly…

Book cover of With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula: Women and the U.S. Sanitary Commission

Jocelyn Green Author Of Wedded to War

From my list on women nurses during the Civil War.

Who am I?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, the Historical Novel Society, and the Military Writers Society of America.

Jocelyn's book list on women nurses during the Civil War

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

This book captures the work of the little-known U.S. Sanitary Commission, the pre-cursor to the Red Cross, and its influence during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Women nurses were the lifeblood of the hospital transports that saved hundreds of lives.

By Nancy Scripture Garrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Civil War on the Peninsula: Women and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The U.S. Sanitary Commission was a volunteer medical and relief organization during the Civil War, in which women played a significant role. The author draws on the letters of women serving in McClellan's Peninsula campaign of 1862 to integrate social, cultural and military history into a gripping narrative.

Book cover of Fort Sumter to Perryville

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Who am I?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

Whether one is a Civil War buff, or a fan of Sun Tzu’s military strategy, you will find plenty of both in this three-volume set. Volume 1 is: Fort Sumter to Perryville. Volume 2 is: Fredericksburg to Meridian, and Volume 3 is: Red River to Appomattox.  

Shelby Foote’s work provided most of the background of Ken Burn’s PBS epic, The Civil War. Anyone who watched that masterpiece and heard the knowledge of Shelby Foote spoken in the most lovely Southern drawl, will not be disappointed in this collection. 

The Civil War: A Narrative – 3 volume box set provided significant detail and motivation for me as I wrote my own book.  When I had a question about a date, geography of a battle, written correspondence between fighters or allies, or conversations such as took place at Appomattox Courthouse between Generals Grant and Lee, I went immediately to Shelby Foote’s three-volume…

By Shelby Foote,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Fort Sumter to Perryville as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume of Shelby Foote's classic narrative of the Civil War opens with Jefferson Davis’s farewell to the United Senate and ends on the bloody battlefields of Antietam and Perryville, as the full, horrible scope of America’s great war becomes clear. Exhaustively researched and masterfully written, Foote’s epic account of the Civil War unfolds like a classic novel. 
Includes maps throughout.
"Here, for a certainty, is one of the great historical narratives…a unique and brilliant achievement, one that must be firmly placed in the ranks of the masters."—Van Allen Bradley, Chicago Daily News

"A stunning book full of color,…