Books on the American Civil War: A Critical Bibliography

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Walter Westcote
Daniel Welch
Theodore P. Savas
7 x 10, 360pp
Yes, Welch and Savas


Tens of thousands of books have been published on the Civil War. Keeping track of what books are available, and whether they are worthwhile, is an impossible task. Books on the American Civil War: A Critical Bibliography by Walter Westcote, Daniel Welch, and Theodore P. Savas, was designed to make that task easier.

In an effort to sort through the deluge of title, historians Allan Nevins, James Robertson, and Bell Wiley produced Civil War Books: A Critical Bibliography, 2 vols. (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1967). The study, which arose from their work with the Centennial Commission, helped synthesize some of the most important works available in many categories, but its usefulness was limited by its very brief descriptions that consisted of no more than a handful of words. Still, it remains a classic and hard to find in good condition for a fair price.

Thirty years later, David J. Eicher updated the earlier effort with The Civil War in Books: An Analytical Bibliography (Univ. of Ill Press, 1997). This well-received reference work includes books published through mid-1995. As anyone who has studied this era knows, a vast number of significant books have been published since that time.

As Theodore P. Savas has often argued, "The Golden Age of Civil War publishing is now!" Hence the need for this updated bibliography. 

Walter Westcote brought his manuscript to us several years ago, but fell ill and had difficulty editing and finalizing it. (Sadly, Walter did not live to see the fruits of his initial labor published, and passed away in 2020.) Daniel Welch and Theodore P. Savas joined in and the project is now nearly finished. Most of the books included herein have been published since the appearance of Eicher’s 1997 study, though a few seminal books that must be included in any listing can be found herein. 

Topics are wide-ranging and organized into easy-to-use categories so readers can find exactly what they are seeking. Categories include battles and campaigns (all theaters), Civil War Navies, Confederate and Union memoirs and biographies, general works, civilians, slavery, and of course, unit histories. Main entries are alphabetized (in sub-categories, if appropriate) and include the author or editor, title, publisher, date of the original publication, a short critical (i.e., opinionated) summary of its contents, and its specifications (i.e., whether it has maps, photos and illustrations, notes, biblio., and index, and whether it was first published in hardcover or paperback, issued with a dust jacket, and its page count).

 Civil War titles are not inexpensive, so knowing what is inside a book, and whether it has been well-received or ridiculed, is important before you put down your hard-earned money. Does it have notes and a bibliography? Is it well-written and deeply researched? Are there better books on the subject? Is it woefully out of date and no longer of use? These and many other issues are explored in virtually every entry.

The books you will not purchase because of what is inside this study will save you many times the cost of this book.

Finally, Books on the American Civil War is fun to peruse and read. And, we guarantee that every reader and student of the war will stumble across gems throughout this study they did not know existed. 

We hope you find it useful and, together with the first two bibliographic books that preceded it, make your love of the Civil War that much more enjoyable. 

WALTER WESTCOTE was a longtime student of the war and made his living as a chemist. He passed away after a long illness in 2020. DAN WELCH currently serves as a primary and secondary educator with a public school district in northeast Ohio. Previously, Dan was the education programs coordinator for the Gettysburg Foundation, the non-profit partner of Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as a seasonal Park Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park for six years. During that time, he led numerous programs on the campaign and battle for school groups, families, and visitors of all ages. Welch received his B.A. in Instrumental Music Education from Youngstown State University where he studied under the famed French Hornist William Slocum, and is currently finishing his M.A. in military history with a Civil War Era concentration at American Military University. Welch has also studied under the tutelage of Dr. Allen C. Guelzo as part of the Gettysburg Semester at Gettysburg College. He currently resides with his wife, Sarah, in Boardman, Ohio. THEODORE P. SAVAS is an attorney and the co-founder and managing director of Savas Beatie. He is the author of a dozen books and plays keyboards and bass in the hard rock band Arminius. He lives in northern California.