October 30, 2010

Donation of Rare Civil War Books

Dr. D.J. Canale recently donated a large collection of rare Civil War medical books to the University of Mississippi's J.D. Williams Library.

October 24, 2010

Rare Books as Investments? Good Luck.

An interesting piece with commentary from leading rare book dealers on the above topic.

October 23, 2010

Canada and the United States: The Civil War Years

I came across this book as part of the background reading for my current project and was completely taken in by its lively narrative, superb research, and interpretations. In fact, I’d say that over 95% of the work was written based solely off of primary sources. Canada and the United States: The Civil War Years was published fifty years ago in 1960 by the Johns Hopkins Press as a revised version of author Robin Winks’ (1930-2003) doctoral dissertation. The book is still in print and has seen four editions, though this finely nuanced work is now retitled as The Civil War Years: Canada and the United States. Go figure. Other works on the Civil War-era “cold war” between Canada (in other words, Great Britain) and the United States have appeared in the intervening years, however this one is still the standard work, in my opinion.

The Canadian Historical Review described it as “A searching examination of Canadian and American attitudes throughout the Civil War, and the effect of attitudes and incidents upon the continuing problems of British-American relations ... The great value of Professor Winks' book is not only in its detailed analysis of Canadian and American attitudes, but also in its conspicuous fairness ... Comprehensive and objective." If you’re a student of the international and diplomatic aspects of the war, then I heartily recommend this book. Winks’ analysis and detective work in illuminating the Confederate cloak-and-dagger operations that emanated from Canada is first rate as well. As a more recent review of the reissue also noted, “A number of the stories here--the Trent Affair of 1861, the St. Albans Raid of 1864--will be familiar to students of North American history. Among Winks's contributions in this study is his ability to place these familiar wartime highlights in a much subtler and more gradual political evolution so as to give us the impression that we are learning of them for the first time.”

The first edition is bound in green cloth with silver lettering on the spine and simply states "©1960 by The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore" on the copyright page. There is no statement of first edition status or number row. Like all university press books of this vintage, finding a first edition that’s not a library discard can be challenging. It’s doubly challenging if you want one in fine condition in like dust jacket, as this book’s white jacket is very easily soiled. I’ve yet to find one, so let me know if you do. I’ll make you a great offer!

October 16, 2010

State History Award!

Last night I had the privilege and honor of receiving another award for my biography of Orlando M. Poe. The Historical Society of Michigan bestowed their State History Award in their Commercial and University Press Books category at their annual conference and banquet in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Though this is my fifth book overall, it is the first to be published by a university press. In looking back over the publishing timeline, it’s easy to see that the peer review process utilized by Kent State University Press was invaluable in making the final product a more complete work. In retrospect, the critiques and suggestions offered by the University’s outside reviewers were simply priceless. Even though the publishing timeframe was longer than what I initially expected, the result was obviously well worth the wait. So thanks Kent State, for accepting this work and helping to shape it into an award-winning book!

October 5, 2010

NEW & Interesting Small Press Book

From the PR Newswire:

PA Historical and Museum Commission Releases New Book Focused on Civil War Soldiers Who Became PA Governors

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 22 In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has published a book that traces the life of five soldiers who went on to be elected the state's chief executive.

Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania's Civil War Veterans who Became State Leaders was researched and written by Richard C. Saylor, an archivist for the Pennsylvania State Archives. Most of the material in the 196-page, full-color, and cloth-cover book has never before been published or exhibited.

"Five of Pennsylvania's first eight post-Civil War governors were veterans of the American Civil War," said Saylor. "This streak spanned four decades, from the election of John White Geary in 1866 to Samuel W. Pennypacker's final day in office, in January 1907.

"Even though these individuals rose to great political height and power, they did not forget their combat memories or neglect their old military comrades. Their war experiences shaped their vision and beliefs."

Pennsylvania governors who fought in the Civil War include John White Geary (1819–1873), in office from 1867 to 1873; John Frederick Hartranft (1830–1889), in office from 1873 to 1879; Henry Martyn Hoyt (1830–1892), in office from 1879 to 1883; James Addams Beaver (1837–1914); in office from 1887 to 1891; and Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916), in office from 1903 to 1907.

The author follows each of the individuals through his military service, discussing the engagements and battles in which he participated. Also included is an assessment of his political career.

In addition to photographs, "Soldiers to Governors" includes extensive endnotes, an index and bibliography. The book is available now at www.PABookstore.com.

The Rebellion Record

The Rebellion Record was in total a twelve-volume set that was published during the Civil War and in the three years following. Both during the war and in the decade following the conflict, it was certainly a valuable repository of primary source information for general readers, students and historians, but once the Official Records appeared on the scene, much if not most of its value vanished. Each volume is comprised of three sections: “Diary of Events,” “Documents,” and “Poetry and Incidents.” Within those sections, one will find newspaper reports from North and South, various documents and reports, public addresses, maps, engravings, and the aforementioned poetry.

Eicher’s bibliography (#748) refers to the set as an “entertaining hodgepodge of valuable documents and worthless material” that while it does provide “an authentic flavor of the reporting of the war,” the set “contains little worth reading that does not appear elsewhere in a more accessible form.” Any value to modern bibliophiles will be that of a period piece coupled with the always requisite condition, condition, and condition.

I will say that while Eicher’s sentiments are probably accurate in an overarching sense, nevertheless I have always found some very useful nuggets in here for my various book projects. Therefore I would always advise anyone conducting ACW research to give a glance into the Rebellion Record.

The set had two publishers during its initial appearance. G. P. Putnam’s Sons was the publisher from 1861-1863. D. Van Nostrand Co. then took over from 1864-1868 with G.P. Putnams and Henry Holt publishing the twelfth and final Supplemental volume. The entire set was reprinted by Arno Press in a faux leather, facsimile edition in 1977, though I believe that it too is now out of print.

I’ve always noticed that any copies I found for sale were usually ratty and beat, and never in a complete set. So when I saw the pictured leather bound set for sale, it certainly caught my eye. The full set is currently being offered at eBay here for a cool $1750 if you’re so inclined.