100 Must-Read Books About the Civil War Era

The Civil War era, one of the ugliest periods in American history, has produced some of the most fascinating and heartbreaking books, both novels and historical accounts. From meticulously reconstructed battle scenes and the politics of war, to journals from slaves and all the horrors of slavery, thousands of books about America’s war at home and life during that time are written every year. (There are hundreds every year on Abraham Lincoln alone.) Here are 100 relevant titles that cover several aspects of the time period, including a few that cover events leading up to the war, and a few, like Beloved, about people’s lives after it.

  1. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
  2. Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott
  3. They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook
  4. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory by David W. Blight
  5. The Underground Railroad by Charles L. Blockson
  6. March by Geraldine Brooks*
  7. Kindred by Octavia Butler
  8. Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey by Peter Carlson*
  9. A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton
  10. This Hallowed Ground: A History of the Civil War by Bruce Catton
  11. Mary Chesnut’s Diary by Mary Boykin Chesnut
  12. The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini*
  13. The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle by Margaret S. Creighton
  14. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane*
  15. Grace by Natashia Deón*
  16. Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge by Charles B. Dew
  17. The March by E.L. Doctorow*
  18. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  19. The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865 by Alice Fahs
  20. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  21. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust
  22. Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War by Charles Bracelen Flood
  23. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner
  24. The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote
  25. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
  26. Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger
  27. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier*
  28. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman
  29. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines*
  30. With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula by Nancy Scripture Garrison
  31. The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  32. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph
  33. 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
  34. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  35. Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 by Ulysses S. Grant
  36. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen Guelzo
  37. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus*
  38. Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S. C. Gwynne
  39. A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn
  40. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley*
  41. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall*
  42. The Civil War in 50 Objects by Harold Holzer and the New-York Historical Society
  43. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  44. Neverhome by Laird Hunt*
  45. Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  46. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
  47. North and South by John Jakes*
  48. Cease Firing by Mary Johnston*
  49. The Known World by Edward P. Jones*
  50. Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War by Brian Matthew Jordan
  51. Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy by Winthrop D. Jordan
  52. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
  53. Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley
  54. Women in Slavery: Selections from her Journal of Residence on a Georgian Plantation by Frances Anne Kemble
  55. American Slavery: 1619-1877 by Peter Kolchin
  56. Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda
  57. Reveille in Washington: 1860-1865 by Margaret Leech
  58. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard
  59. What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning
  60. Divided Mastery: Slave Hiring in the American South by Jonathan D. Martin
  61. Andersonville: The Last Depot by William Marvel
  62. Women in the Civil War by Mary Elizabeth Massey
  63. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride*
  64. I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe*
  65. Grant by William S. McFeely
  66. John Brown’s War against Slavery by Robert E. McGlone
  67. Battlecry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
  68. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
  69. Beloved by Toni Morrison*
  70. New York Times: Disunion: Modern Historians Revisit and Reconsider the Civil War from Lincoln’s Election to the Emancipation Proclamation by The New York Times and Ted Widmer
  71. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  72. Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War by Stephen B. Oates
  73. Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman by Robert L. O’Connell
  74. My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira*
  75. The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 by David M. Potter
  76. Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor
  77. The Negro in the Civil War by by Benjamin Quarles
  78. A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865 by Edwin S. Redkey
  79. The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 by Leonard L. Richards
  80. Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868 by Cokie Roberts
  81. The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans by Charles Royster
  82. Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America by Jane E. Schultz
  83. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears
  84. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara*
  85. The Memoirs of W.T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
  86. The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina by Manisha Sinha
  87. Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South by Kenneth M. Stampp
  88. The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race by John Stauffer
  89. Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War by Harry S. Stout
  90. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe*
  91. Cane River by Lalita Tademy*
  92. A Black Woman’s Civil War Memoirs by Susie King Taylor
  93. She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War by Bonnie Tsui
  94. Lincoln: A Novel by Gore Vidal*
  95. An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Pvt. Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers, 1862-1864 by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman
  96. Jubilee by Margaret Walker*
  97. Notes from a Colored Girl: The Civil War Pocket Diaries of Emilie Frances Davis by Karsonya Wise Whitehead
  98. Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet E. Wilson
  99. Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War by H. Donald Winkler
  100. Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation by Robert Wilson

*fiction

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