Riot Headline The Most Read Books on Goodreads This Week

100 Must-Read Civil War Books About The Historic Era

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

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 Civil War 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 of the best Civil War books every written–both fiction and nonfiction. They 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.

100 Must-Read Civil War Books About The Historic Era From


  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
  • The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini*
  • The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle by Margaret S. Creighton
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane*
  • Grace by Natashia Deón*
  • Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge by Charles B. Dew
  • The March by E.L. Doctorow*
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865 by Alice Fahs
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust
  • Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War by Charles Bracelen Flood
  • The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner
  • The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote
  • A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman
  • Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier*
  • Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines*
  • With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula by Nancy Scripture Garrison
  • The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household by Thavolia Glymph
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 by Ulysses S. Grant
  • Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allen Guelzo
  • Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus*
  • Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S. C. Gwynne
  • A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn
  • Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley*
  • Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall*
  • The Civil War in 50 Objects by Harold Holzer and the New-York Historical Society
  • Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • Neverhome by Laird Hunt*
  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
  • North and South by John Jakes*
  • Cease Firing by Mary Johnston*
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones*
  • Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War by Brian Matthew Jordan
  • Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy by Winthrop D. Jordan
  • Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
  • Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley
  • Women in Slavery: Selections from her Journal of Residence on a Georgian Plantation by Frances Anne Kemble
  • American Slavery: 1619-1877 by Peter Kolchin
  • Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda
  • Reveille in Washington: 1860-1865 by Margaret Leech
  • All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D. Leonard
  • What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War by Chandra Manning
  • Divided Mastery: Slave Hiring in the American South by Jonathan D. Martin
  • Andersonville: The Last Depot by William Marvel
  • Women in the Civil War by Mary Elizabeth Massey
  • The Good Lord Bird by James McBride*
  • I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe*
  • Grant by William S. McFeely
  • John Brown’s War against Slavery by Robert E. McGlone
  • Battlecry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison*
  • 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
  • 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
  • Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War by Stephen B. Oates
  • Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman by Robert L. O’Connell
  • My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira*
  • The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 by David M. Potter
  • Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor
  • The Negro in the Civil War by by Benjamin Quarles
  • A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865 by Edwin S. Redkey
  • The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 by Leonard L. Richards
  • Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868 by Cokie Roberts
  • The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans by Charles Royster
  • Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America by Jane E. Schultz
  • Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara*
  • The Memoirs of W.T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
  • The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina by Manisha Sinha
  • Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South by Kenneth M. Stampp
  • The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race by John Stauffer
  • Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War by Harry S. Stout
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe*
  • Cane River by Lalita Tademy*
  • A Black Woman’s Civil War Memoirs by Susie King Taylor
  • She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War by Bonnie Tsui
  • Lincoln: A Novel by Gore Vidal*
  • 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
  • Jubilee by Margaret Walker*
  • Notes from a Colored Girl: The Civil War Pocket Diaries of Emilie Frances Davis by Karsonya Wise Whitehead
  • Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet E. Wilson
  • Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War by H. Donald Winkler
  • Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation by Robert Wilson

    What are your favorite Civil War books? Leave your favorites in the comments! Want more books about U.S. history? We’ve got another 100 of them here