Have you ever written a book review?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The WORST Civil War Books?


We have all been asked to discuss, list, recommend, nominate, select, or otherwise thrust onto others our list of favorite Civil War books. Let's take a different route.

List the worst Civil War book(s) you have personally read, and explain briefly why you would slate them in that unwanted category.

Have at it.


(And sorry for being so late with my posts. I had shoulder surgery and am just getting back to the keyboard full time.)


Anonymous said...

Robert E. Lee's Civil War - Bevin Alexander. And it even made it to PAPERBACK!

Absolutely awful.

Anonymous said...

Like to hear more about that Lee book and why it was so bad.

I just finished (not quite--I couldn't finish it) "The Battle of Glendale: The Day the South Nearly Won the Civil War," by Jim Stempel. Quite likely the worst premise, worst research, crappy maps, and one false premise after another. Seriously, McFarland published this?? Really? I don't think I will trust them again. I got it as a gift, but did not have the heart to tell the giver the book is just awful.

Rob Wyatt

BillP said...

Worst Civil War book I ever read, by far was Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg--And Why It Failed by Tom Carhart.

This book is a big pile of steaming ka-ka. The author believes, for no good reason I can discern, that Lee had a grand plan for the third day at Gettysburg that involved sending Stuart around the Union right to attack the Union rear simultaneously with Pickett's attack on the Union front. His main reason for this belief is that Lee couldn't have possibly been stupid enough to launch Pickett's charge without some other grand plan, that must have miscarried. His justifications for this belief don't even rise to the level of evidence. He just flat makes stuff up. He has incredibly shifting standards where actual evidence is ignored or dismissed and absence of evidence is seen as proof. It almost surreal. Avoid this one. I'm a little pissed that I actually bought it.

J. David Petruzzi said...

Agreed, Bill - Carhart's fabricated garbage, erroneously marketed as non-fiction, stands at or near the top of the pile of festering putridity.
Another is Paul Davis' book on East Cavalry Field (with a premise much the same as Carhart's) called Custer vs. Stuart: The Cavalry Battle That Saved the Union. Only 10% of the book is actually devoted to the fight. Just a few sources in the bib, all but one are secondary works. He completely ignores David Gregg's role, and the book's theme (as can be discerned from the title) is that the July 3, 1863 cavalry fight saved the United States, hence Custer saved the country that day. This book is an insult to the number of trees which died to make it.
Troy Harman's Cemetery Hill: Lee's Real Plan (anytime you see the words "Real Plan" in the title please run like hell) is also another stinker. Basically a short theme that was streeeeetched into book length, purporting that Pickett's Charge was exclusively aimed at the stones in Evergreen Cemetery and nowhere else. Interesting theory, but Harman strains evidence and credulity to make his point, and the book just drags on and on, repeating the same points over and over. Great book when the Lunestra just won't kick in fast enough.

dw said...

One of the worst books I've personally read -- the first that comes to mind -- is by John Bowers. No, not the Stonewall Jackson biography that had a portrait of someone other than Jackson on the original dust jacket. But "Chickamauga and Chattanooga: the Battles that Doomed the Confederacy." Just spectacularly awful (but a best seller by a major publisher, of course).

After all these years, one image from that book I cannot shake is Bowers's description of Bragg's headquarters tent with the flap billowing out due to the general's thunderous flatulence. Somehow that detail was left out of the Official Records.

James W. Durney said...

The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove is the worst book possible.

DW@CWBA said...

My vote is Eagleberger's history of the 10th Missouri Cavalry. It is easily the worst unit history I've ever encountered, my distaste for it exacerbated by the author's lack of humility.

Eric Wittenberg said...

I have to agree about the awe inspiring wretchedness of Carhart's book. Relying on things that he made up to suit his theory, this book is academic fraud disguised as legitimate history.

Anonymous said...

'The Worst Civil War Book' has yet to be published.

Not to worry. It will be.

Hopefully, not my SB