Book review: The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War by Thomas Flagel

Professor/author/historian/preservationist and friend, Thomas Flagel has recently published a new edition of his book entitled “The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War”.

Here are my top ten reasons to read/buy this book, although my order is not relevant?

  1. It’s the best “list-kinda” book available.  Many of these kind of books have been published over the years but Flagel’s has depth, reasonableness, and uniqueness compared to similar volumes in this genre.
  2. He’s starting his Ph.D., in the fall and he needs to pay for it.  Buy the book.  Buy two and give one away even.
  3. His organization and taxonomy is smart, useful and broad.
  4. For just under the price of a large Tuscan Six-cheese pizza from Papa Johns you will have the single resource in your hands to amaze all your friends during Trivial Pursuit night.
  5. The book averages over 4-stars on Amazon reviews.
  6. It just might impress the administration at Columbia State Community College, where he teaches, resulting in a significant raise, or at least a bigger classroom.
  7. Because everyone should read at least one Civil War book during the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War this year, and it might as well be this book.
  8. He asked me to review the book for him.
  9. It’s big and fat, affordable, and will look impressive next to the worthless fiction books on your nightstand.
  10. After reading it, you will be sufficiently literate to enjoy the very first Civil War Roundtable meeting you attend in your area.

From the publisher:

The publisher, Cumberland House, provided this commentary:

The 150th anniversary of the American Civil War is just months away, and the conflict’s very language still resonates within our national narrative. Texas rumbles with the sounds of secession.  “States’ rights” remains a battle cry over boarder security, civil unions, and taxation. Groundswells against federalism have given birth to a political faction.  The country still struggles with issues concerning race.

Author and historian Thomas R. Flagel offers a new and provocative perspective on the very source of these crises, through his newest edition of The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War.

An era often referenced but rarely comprehended, the four-year maelstrom induced a trauma unprecedented and unsurpassed in the American experience. The modern nation North and South may still be contending with anger and denial, unable to graduate towards acceptance. Considering the evidence, often overlooked by other histories, our lingering divisions are understandable.

Flagel provides a deeper clarity and perspective on tough issues of the Civil War that will have you debating new and intriguing questions in no time…

    • While the U.S. has lost nearly 5,600 brave Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Civil War killed an average of 5,600 soldiers every twelve days.
    • The “War Between the States” caused the national debt to swell 4,000%, by far the highest percentage increase in American history.
    • In 1860, Mississippi was the 4th wealthiest state in the country. By 1865, it had become one of the poorest. It has remained near the bottom ever since.
    • The average age of a Civil War veteran was 26, and many suffered from “Soldier’s Heart,” known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    • If the war were fought today, and consume the same proportion of the population, the death toll would be approximately 5.8 million.

The History Buff’s Guide to the Civil War (Order from Amazon)

Thomas R. Flagel

Cumberland House, 2010

ISBN 978-1-58182-371-4

Paperback, 400 pages, illustrated, annotated, indexed

MSRP $16.95

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