April 6, 2008

Back From the Book Fair

I spent an enjoyable few hours this morning knocking around at the 47th Michigan Antiquarian Book Fair in Lansing. About 80 dealers were on hand to display their wares which ranged from rare books to old postcards and city maps, with everything in between. The crowd was fairly heavy when I left at noon and I overheard some dealers say that business was fairly good. That was music to my ears considering the in-the-tank Michigan economy.

Civil War books were quite common at the booths of those dealers who feature general history amongst their stock. But for the handful of dealers who specialized in military history, it was clearly evident that World War II interest has surpassed that of the Civil War. That is, if quantity of stock and customer interest in that inventory is any indicator. Several brief conversations with these dealers confirmed my hunch. Of course, they pointed out that rare and scare Civil War titles in premium condition will always sell well. As for myself, I walked away with Gary Gallagher's new book on the Civil War in popular culture, a fairly obscure book of Civil War letters called Soldier in the West: The Civil War Letters of Alfred Lacy Hough and a beautiful, 120-year-old copy of Zachariah Chandler: An Outline Sketch of His Life and Public Services.

I'm currently studying Civil War-era Michigan politics which, of course, means one must be conversant with Senator Chandler - lovingly known to many of that time and place as "Xanthippe in pants" and as George McClellan's drinking buddy. ;-)

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