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Started with the American Heritage Book on the Civil War - Introductions - About this Forum - Start Here - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 10:06 pm
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ashbel
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When I was 12 my parents gave me the American Heritage book on the Civil War by Bruce Catton.  I fell in love with it and have been a Civil War buff ever since.  I used to spend hours studying those marvelous maps.  Great narrative and lots of impression creating pictures.

I have been the President of a local Civil War Round Table for the past 10 years.  One night we had Craig Symonds as our speaker.  At dinner his wife asked me how I started my interest in the Civil War.  When I told her, Craig immediately spoke up saying that was his experience as well.  Many others I have met have told me the same thing.

Anyone else have a similar start?

 



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 02:55 pm
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David White
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Ditto, I spent hours and hours with that book.  When I made my first battle excursion as a child, I took that book and read the pertinent parts out loud to my parents as we approached the next destination.



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 03:12 pm
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ashbel
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David

Another story.  A few years ago I was on a Tour at the Annual Meeting of the old APCWS.  I was talking with the fellow next to me on the bus and telling him how I started my Civil War interest.  He said he started the same way.  Then the couple in the seat in front of us turned and said they did too. 

So there are at least 6 of us!

 



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 03:27 pm
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Don
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Ashbel,

I might be one as well. In the book, do the maps appear painted, and the unit dispositions look like little lines of blue and gray soldiers?

Don



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 03:36 pm
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HankC
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David Greenspan was the battle map artist. My start was the same, a friend had the book and I just marveled in the detail of one of the battle paintings for near on all day...I think it was Antietam...


HankC



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 05:11 pm
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ashbel
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Don

That is the book.  You are one of us.

Hank C.

I never knew who the artist was.  These maps really are art rather than just cartography.  Thanks.

Sounds like we are at least 8.

I have a theory.  Just give twelve-year-olds a copy of this book.  (shades of Jane Brodie)  We would have plenty of Civil War buffs and supporters of battlefield preservation. 

Then again with video games and TV there might not be enough action for today's kids.  Can't say any of mine spent hours fascinated with one book the way I did. 

 

 



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 10:23 pm
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JoanieReb
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Geez, my real interest in the Civil War reared its ugly head 3 years ago.  My daughter, who was twelve at the time, and  a very serious and creative student, watched me bring home all kinds of fascinating books and maps, leafed thru them, and has been laughing at me, and them, ever since. 

 

Last edited on Thu Feb 7th, 2008 10:23 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 10:57 pm
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ashbel
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Joanie

Buy your daughter the book.  It has been reprinted and is available at many bookstores.  You will love it.

Sounds like you have had as much luck in instilling an interest in the Civil War in your children as I have had with mine.  But it is interesting that whenever any of them or their friends were doing a research paper on the Civil War, I was always their primary resource.  Then I would load them down with 10 or 12 books to read and it didn't seem quite so easy.

One day my daughter asked my wife about some historical event.  My wife said: "Ask your father."  My daughter responded: "I don't want to ask Dad.  I don't want to know that much about it."

It's fun for me to read these threads and know that there are a lot of people here who know a lot more about it than I do.  Looking forward to learning.

 



 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 11:32 pm
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Don
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Gotta go find that book on Amazon. The little guy's only 7 months old, but might as well be prepared.... 8^)

And it's a great excuse for me to get to play with the book again!



 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 01:01 pm
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j harold 587
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I did not get the American Heritage book untill after I was allready hooked. My mother as a way to get me to read did it with a book of Brady photograps, purchased by my great grand father who was a proud member of the GAR, and letters written by him during his service. She also managed to purchase every American Heritage book published except the Civil War. She also bought my first subscription to american heritage magazine when it was still hard cover. I continued to subscribe for several years. Still have them, although my wife wishes I didn't.  Mom also got me the Bruce Canton series of books.   When they were book of the  month club first releases. Guess I am showing my age. 

Welcome!! This is a fine forum where you can discuss and learn and even find a chuckle or two. 



 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 07:19 pm
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ole
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Mom also got me the Bruce Canton series of books.   When they were book of the  month club first releases. Guess I am showing my age. 

So the BOMC got you too?

ole



 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 07:22 pm
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ashbel
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I remember the hardbound American Heritage "magazines."

We did not subscribe to American Heritage but my parents bought me a subscription to a brand new magazine called "Civil War Times Illustrated."  I still have the first few years magazines.  However, I have been asked a few times why we keep that "old junk" in my closet in the garage.

 

 



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:37 am
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ole
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There are those who will buy those first issues, ashbel, but don't tell the "old junk" advocate.

ole



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 10:30 am
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ashbel
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ole
Not for sale.  (shush, don't tell her)

Actually, even though she does not share my Civil War interest, she has always been very supportive and has gone along on many visits to battlefields, cemetaries, etc.

I have one room in our house filled with Civil War books.  She informed me that was it.  Can't stop buying books.  So I think I'll be selling some.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 04:57 pm
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ole
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Sounds like mine, ashbel. I have my own room as well. And, although she nags (expertly, I might add) about the time I spend on the avocation, she does appreciate that I'm not out chasing women or betting on horse races.

ole;)



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 06:12 pm
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Rebel Yell
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I got that book when I was 10...am now 56 and still have it!!! That book, and the Landmark Book series issue of "Gettysburg", sparked a life-long interest in the War of Northern Aggresion.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 07:16 pm
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ashbel
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Rebel yell

You make 9. 

I had all the Landmark books including the one on Gettysburg.  Great books.

When I was 8 or 9 I was reading the Landmark book on the Sioux indians and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Another great story.  After I finished the book I was telling my mother about the "Sigh ox" indians.  She kept saying "the who?"  You know, the "Sigh ox."  "The who?"  "Oh, you mean the Sioux!"  We still laugh about that one.

ole

One of the things I like about studying the Civil War is that there are such great stories.  The other is that it is truly the pivotal event in American History.  You cannot understand the rest if you do not understand the prelude to the war, the war itself and what happened afterword.  I feel sorry for the high school and college students of today who only receive a cursory mention of the war in their classes because it is not "politically correct." 

Anyway I have mentioned this a few times around my children and their friends which of course has become amusing to them.  So my daughter has created this little game with one of her friends to see if any subject they bring up can be related to the Civil War.  Sometimes it becomes a bit of a reach but I usually think of something that relates.  My all time favorite is when my daughter's friend was studying the opera.  "Ok, tell me something about the Civil War that relates to the opera."

Here is where the fantastic story comes in.  One of the all time most bizarre and fascinating characters of opera was a man by the name of Lorenzo da Ponte. He was born in Italy.  He became a priest, was expelled because he had an affair and fled to Austria.  There he met a man by the name of Mozart.  Da Ponte wrote the lyrics on Mozart's most famous operas including Mariage de Figaro and Don Giovanni.  Then he was run out of Austria for having another affair with the Emperor's wife.  He moved to London and became a playwright.  Then moved to New York where he wound up teaching at NYU and was the founder of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. 

And the Civil War connection with da Ponte?  Here is where it becomes interesting.  When Dan Sickles was a young man he was sent off to live with a man of great learning by his father George.  That man was none other than Lorenzo da Ponte.  The formative years of Dan's young life were spent in the da Ponte household.  Perhaps this explains some of Dan's unusual behavior.

A great story.  Not a bad connection with the Civil War and the opera either.

 

 

 

 



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 08:13 pm
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Rebel Yell
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Very interesting story about Sickles. I agree with you about all the fascinating stories that came out of the war.
And, yes, I too read the Landmark book about Custer. Have been to the cavalry field at Gettysburg many times and also to Little Bighorn Battlefield. While not a "Custer-phile", I have to admit that he did play an important role that hot day in July 1863.



 Posted: Sat Feb 9th, 2008 09:39 pm
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ashbel
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Ah, yes, Custer.  Let's just say Libby Custer was a master at PR.

My favorite Custer story is when he rides into Longstreet's camp at Appomattox.  He rides up to Longstreet "with his flaxen locks flowing over his shoulders, and in a brusk, excited manner, said, - 'In the name of General Sheridan I demand the unconditional surrender of this army.'"

Longstreet responds by saying that he was not the commander of the army, that Custer was within the enemy lines without authority addressing a superior officer disrespectfully, and that if he were the commander of the army he would not surrender to General Sheridan.

As Longstreet says in his memoirs: "Custer then became more moderate and said it would be a pity to have more blood shed upon that field and rode back to his command."

Best part about stories is that sometimes they say it all.

 



 Posted: Mon Feb 11th, 2008 08:06 am
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That is a great story about Custer .  Geeze .

I am too old to have gotten the American Heritage Book as a child.  BUT the Landmark books are a different story.  I read as many of them as I could find.  Also another series on the childhood of famous Americans.  When I was a kid they were Orange with silouettes instead of drawings or pictures in them.  I read everyone of them too .  I think my real interest in history came from those books.  A couple of years ago a friend of a friend had heard me talking about how I collect beginning readers , he lucky for me misunderstood what I said .  He went to a yard sale and came back with a little orange book.  He handed it to me and I let out a whoop.  I had been searching for one of those treasured books for years .  He found this one at a yard sale in Cave Junction Oregon where we both were visiting the same friend.

Oh and the title of the one he found?  David Farragut  boy sailor.   I have sense found one at a bookstore here in So. Cal and have purchased two others on line form Alibris . 

So even though I never owned the book you are talking about I understand the connection to it.

Susan



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