View single post by Wrap10
 Posted: Sun Apr 19th, 2009 04:25 pm
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Joined: Sat Jul 28th, 2007
Location: Oklahoma USA
Posts: 97

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Don't think I can really add much to what's been said about books on the battle. I think all of the ones mentioned are very good. My personal favorite is Sword's. If I had to pick one that I think is the best overall book on Shiloh though, it would be close but I'd probably lean toward Larry Daniel's book. I don't agree with all of his conclusions (which probably wouldn't cause him to lose any sleep :) )and I think he's a little too harsh on A.S. Johnston, but all in all, he probably does the best job of placing the battle in a larger context.

In the introduction to Cunningham's book, editors Tim Smith and Gary D. Joiner state that Sword's book is the best tactical study of the battle, which is probably true. If you want details, Sword's your guy. He also has a great writing style, and I think does a wonderful job of weaving human interest stories into the larger story in a seamless manner. I like to say that Daniel's book is facts and figures, while Sword's book is facts, figures, and faces. That's not entirely fair to Daniel, but I think Sword has a little more of the human touch in his book.

The same goes for Cunningham. His book and Sword's book are very similar in the way they 'feel' to me, even though they each have their own individual take on things. One minor complaint I have with Cunningham's book is that it doesn't really have a summation, or a conclusion that ties everything together. It just sort of ends. But if you have an interest in Shiloh, you should read his book. I agree with Susan that it's excellent.

One thing to be aware of about this book though - on the dust-jacket it says that Cunningham was the first historian to conclude that the Hornets Nest fighting was not important to the outcome of the battle. (Don't have it right here in front of me, but it's words to that effect.) The problem is that Cunningham does no such thing anywhere in the book. I won't give away anymore than that, but I think folks should be aware that that claim on the dust-jacket about the Hornets Nest, which was probably put there by the publisher, is simply not true. In the book, he does not reach the conclusion about the Hornets Nest that they say he does.

The other 'major' book on Shiloh is James McDonough's, Shiloh: In Hell Before Night. It's more general than the other three above, but it's still a good read.

D.W. Reed, the first historian of the park, wrote an account of the battle that first appeared in the early 20th Century, and can be read online in its entirety. See here -

It has also recently been reprinted, and is available in book form at Amazon and other book outlets.

On local civilians, I'm afraid I don't know of any books that deal with them per say, although as barrydancer mentioned, Tim Smith's This Great Battlefield of Shiloh does have some interesting information about them. One of the members of our discussion group on Shiloh who lives near the park has said that Tim gives a talk from time to time about the the residents who lived in the area at the time of the battle. I haven't heard it, but I'd love to. We also have two or three members on the board (including Wordpix John now! :) ) who had relatives who lived in the area, and have passed along some good stories.

Tim Smith's two books are very good in my opinion, and should be added to anyone's list if they have an interest in the battle or the park. They don't really deal with the battle, as I think was mentioned before, but they do give some information on the park that I'm not sure you'll find anywhere else, outside of visiting the park and asking questions of some of the rangers.

Sorry for the long ramble.


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