Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Non-Fiction: American History

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

Book Description: Following his subject from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. A marvel of scholarship, a delight to read, and an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.

Noted: I’ve read a lot about Jefferson but I haven’t’ read this book so I thought I would grab a copy. I am looking forward to seeing how he is portrayed.


This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust

Book Description: An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today's population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields-from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

Noted: I’m currently deepening my research in what some call the American Civil War and I stumbled on this book on social media. Not sure where but I am hoping this book is worth reading and gives me some more insight of the war.


A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West by James Donovan

In June of 1876, on a desolate hill above a winding river called "the Little Bighorn," George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by almost 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. The news of this devastating loss caused a public uproar, and those in positions of power promptly began to point fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was conveniently dead, took the brunt of the blame.

The truth, however, was far more complex. A TERRIBLE GLORY is the first book to relate the entire story of this endlessly fascinating battle, and the first to call upon all the significant research and findings of the past twenty-five years--which have changed significantly how this controversial event is perceived. Furthermore, it is the first book to bring to light the details of the U.S. Army cover-up--and unravel one of the greatest mysteries in U.S. military history.

Scrupulously researched, A TERRIBLE GLORY will stand as ta landmark work. Brimming with authentic detail and an unforgettable cast of characters--from Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse to Ulysses Grant and Custer himself--this is history with the sweep of a great novel.

Noted: What frustrates me the most about stories of Custer is from what I’ve read, the history has been twisted and there is a lot of myth to it…I do have strong opinions about how the Native Americans were treated by the Federal (Unionist) Government. Shameful doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions…

Though I hear this book portrays Custer as likable civil war hero of the unionist. That said, I am still willing to give this book a try.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


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