Enjoy reading the blog? These are all books that have contributed to it. Check them out for yourself.
The Forgotten History of America: Little Known Conflicts of Lasting Importance From the Earliest Colonists to the Eve of the Revolution by Cormac O'Brien. A good collection of the many colonial conflicts that gave an early shape to our country.
Eagles and Empire: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle for the Continent by David A. Clary. One of the easiest to read accounts of the Mexican War. Clary is not primarily a military historian and he does a great job of placing the war in the context of U.S. and Mexican history.
Civil War (General)
Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign by Peter Cozzens. A fantastic read that de-mythologizes Jackson in a good way and, as the person who gifted it to me pointed out, actually bothers to consult Northern sources.
A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Chestnut (free e-book). A brilliantly written account of the war adapted from the pages of Mary's wartime diary. This is the older version, the text first published in 1905 by her close friend. The unedited version from her original manuscript is titled Mary Chestnut's Civil War and won the Pulitzer in 1981.
The Longest Night by David J. Eicher. For those primarily interested in military history, especially military history outside of Virginia, this is a must-read.
Civil War High Commands by John and David Eicher. The ultimate Civil War reference book, Eicher and Eicher have written the gold standard in Civil War minutia. This is not a book to read about the war, it's a book for if you want to write about the war.
Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command by Douglas Southall Freeman. Freeman was one of the early modern historians of the war, making an effort to consult original documents and do real research. Seventy years later, the organizational analysis of Lee's army remains compelling, even if the writing style now feels slightly flowery.
Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War by Ernest B. Furgurson. A breezy account of Civil War-era Washington.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Dorris Kearns Goodwin. If you haven't read it yet, why not?
The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865 by E.B. Long. For serious reference, a compilation of the main events of every day for five years.
The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James McPherson. Called the essential one-volume account of the war, this is a modern classic. If you only ever read one book on the Civil War, make it this one.
Chesapeake Bay in the Civil War by Eric Mills. The title says it all!
Controversies and Commanders by Stephen W. Sears. McClellan's biographer takes a turn through the scandals left in the wake of America's most controversial of commanders.
Commanding the Army of the Potomac by Stephen R. Taaffee. The right short book for those interested in the most famous Union army's intrigue. He has a clear bias towards successful generals, but who can really blame him?
Over Lincoln's Shoulder by Bruce Tapp. One of the best accounts of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.
Civil War (Biography or Autobiography)
Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander by E. Porter Alexander, edited by Gary W. Gallagher. The most readable of Civil War memoirs, Alexander has a keen eye for military operations and a wry sense of humor.
Colonel Edward D. Baker: Lincoln's Constant Ally by Harry Blair and Rebecca Tarshis. It will be no surprise to its reader that this was commissioned by the Oregon Historical Society. Nevertheless, there aren't enough books on this fascinating and nearly forgotten politician.
The Military Operations of General Beauregard in the War Between the States: 1861-1865 by Alfred Roman (free e-book). Beauregard's biographer (a veteran of the 18th Louisiana and staffer for the general), in trying to justify him to history, collected a remarkable number of original letters. While he spins quite a bit, he still lets Borey be Borey.
Burnside by William Marvel. While succumbing to the usual biographer pitfall of explaining away all of Ambrose Burnside's faults, Marvel still has an engaging style and has done impeccable research.
Fighting Joe Hooker by Walter H. Herbert. One of the Union's most controversial generals, Herbert goes out of his way to try to redeem him.
The Autobiography of Eppa Hunton by Eppa Hunton II (free e-book). There's a great deal to both like and dislike about the general and U.S. Senator's work, making it a great source for considering a Prince William County man in the 19th Century.
From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of the Civil War in America by James Longstreet (free e-book). Another easy read, Longstreet's unique perspective on the war was a heavy influence on Michael Shaara.
The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade by George Meade (free e-book). With the predictable caveats whenever someone's son is editor of his papers, it is a remarkable collection of the forgotten general's personal correspondence.
The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan, ed. Stephen W. Sears. Most editors attempt to redeem their subject when collecting and annotating their personal and professional correspondence, but Sears (justly, I believe) lets McClellan hang himself with his own words.
Sherman: A Soldiers Life by Lee Kennett. A very carefully researched biography about a controversial general and man that doesn't shy from showing his warts along with his genius.