Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Civil War away from the battlefield: 5 best books

James M. McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the newly released Tried by War: Lincoln as Commander in Chief, named a five best list of "books about the Civil War away from the battlefield" for the Wall Street Journal.

One title from his list:
Southern Lady, Yankee Spy
by Elizabeth R. Varon
Oxford, 2003

Popular Civil War literature is filled with romantic and sensational stories of female spies, many of them made of whole cloth. But this story of Elizabeth Van Lew is eminently true. A member of a prominent Richmond family, she inherited her mother's antislavery convictions. She freed her own slaves before the war and purchased some of their relatives to free them. During the war Van Lew skillfully traded on her reputation for eccentricity (she was called "Crazy Bet") to get away with hiding escaped Union prisoners of war and providing Gen. Ulysses S. Grant with vital intelligence smuggled through the lines during the 1864-65 siege of Richmond.
Read more about McPherson's list.

Learn more about McPherson's Tried by War: Lincoln as Commander in Chief.

--Marshal Zeringue