Friday, August 14, 2015

Press Release--Grant Under Fire

A book by Joseph A. Rose challenges Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation as a military genius and as a reliable chronicler of America’s bloodiest conflict.
PrintMEDIA CONTACT:Joseph A. Rose
Alderhanna Publishing
310 First Avenue #9D
New York, NY 10009
(212) 529-1861

ISBN: 978-1943177-004
LCCN: 2015936954
Retail price: $42.50
Illustrations: 37 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9 inches
Page Count: 816
Binding: Smyth-sewn
Cover: Hardbound
Cover Art: Four color
Publication date:
September 15, 2015
Grant suffered the biggest military surprise of the Civil War, committed the worst official act of anti-Semitism on United States soil, and came closest of all federal commanders to losing Washington, D.C. In ranking his generalship above Robert E. Lee’s, Grant’s defenders ignore his crude, pugnacious strategies that resulted in a costly war of attrition and his amateurish tactics of impetuous frontal assaults against fortified positions. In addition, his cronyism poisoned the Union war effort.
Praise from noted Civil War scholars:
Joseph Rose presents an engaging critical assessment of Grant’s generalship that is destined to provoke lively debate.—Gordon Rhea
Rose writes with a vigorous style, and supports his thesis with impressive research and incisive analysis.—Robert I. Girardi
Grant Under Fire reveals a general with a dramatically different character than the one he portrayed for himself.—Lawrence Lee Hewitt
A well-written, exhaustively researched essay.—John Horn
Rose’s prodigious and impeccable scholarship greatly strengthens his penetrating analysis of both Grant the man and Grant the commander.—William Glenn Robertson
Just to set the record straight, there should be more future insightful research and commentary, as you will find here.—Wiley Sword
It is a must for any serious student of the Civil War.—Frank Varney

This groundbreaking work resolves such persistent controversies as Grant’s drunken partying with the enemy on flag-of-truce boats, unfairly blaming Lew Wallace for the slow march to Shiloh, pretending all along to possess a plan to pass Vicksburg, taking credit for the charge up Missionary Ridge, leaving wounded men to die between the lines at Cold Harbor, and mistreating Black soldiers and civilians. In doing so, Grant’s celebrated Personal Memoirs are shown to be unreliable.

Joseph A. Rose spent twelve years writing Grant Under Fire, combining original research—rigorously based on primary sources—and investigative historiography. It overturns 150 years of distorted and untrue accounts of Ulysses S. Grant’s military career and comprehensively debunks his outstanding reputation as an officer and a gentleman.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Release-Sterling Price's Missouri Expedition of 1864

Another new release from Rowman & Littlefield.

The Last Hurrah: Sterling Price's Missouri Expedition of 1864 (The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era)

“Cutting through 150 years of myths and misinformation surrounding Price’s Raid, Kyle Sinisi provides a compelling study of breadth and depth, demonstrating why the Trans-Mississippi was the most interesting theater of the Civil War. A judicious, balanced, and nuanced account of perhaps the least studied and most misunderstood major campaign of the war.”
—William Garrett Piston, co-author of Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It
The Last Hurrah is the story of Price’s invasion from its politically charged planning to its starving retreat. The Last Hurrah is also the story of what happened after the shooting stopped. Even as hundreds of Missourians followed Price out of the state and tried desperately to join his army, elements of the Union army visited retribution upon Confederate sympathizers while still others showed little regard for the lives of the prisoners they had captured. Many more would have to suffer and die long after Sterling Price had fled Missouri.
  • Re-assesses long-standing interpretations of all major battles and many of the skirmishes, focusing on command decision making.
  • Utilizes the latest scholarship regarding Civil War weaponry and marksmanship to assess the tactical effectiveness of both Union and Confederate forces.
  • Uses 20 newly created maps to demonstrate, in many cases, 150 years of poor cartography and its influence upon how historians have viewed the campaign and its battles.
Kyle S. Sinisi is professor of history at The Citadel. He is author of Sacred Debts: State Civil War Claims and American Federalism, 1861-1880 and co-editor of Warm Ashes: Essays in Southern History at the Dawn of the 21st Century.

New Release--A History of Heists: Bank Robbery in America

This came through my email recently and it grabbed my attention. As I start expanding my reading interests further this looks like one I will have to consider.

A History of Heists: Bank Robbery in America

No crime is as synonymous with America as bank robbery. Though the number of bank robberies nationwide has declined, bank robbery continues to captivate the public and jeopardize the safety of banks and their employees.
Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Willie Sutton, and Patty Hearst are among the most famous figures in the history of crime in the United States. Jesse James used his training as a Confederate guerrilla to make bank robbery a political act. John Dillinger capitalized on the public’s scorn of banks during the Great Depression and became America’s first Public Enemy Number One. When she held up a bank with the leftist Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst fueled the country’s social unrest. Jerry Clark and Ed Palattella delve into the backgrounds and motivations of the robbers, and explore how they are as complex as the nation whose banks they have plundered.
But as much as the story of bank robbery in America focuses on the thieves, it is also a story of those who investigate the heists. As bank robbers became more sophisticated, so did the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.

Ø  Provides a social history of the United States, with bank robbery as the subject. It is much more than the encyclopedia of crime
Ø  Discusses bank robbery’s cultural impact, including its portrayal in the movies
Ø  Examines why bank robbery is declining
Jerry Clark retired as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2011 after twenty-seven years in law enforcement, including careers as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he is also director of risk analysis and mitigation at McManis & Monsalve Associates.
Ed Palattella joined the Erie Times-News, in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1990. He has won a number of awards, including for his investigative work and his coverage of crime.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Civil Rights Pioneer Elbert Williams to be remembered

I received this information on an event that will be taking place tomorrow. Sorry for not getting it posted earlier.

On Saturday, June 20, 2015, the Brownsville, Tennessee community will gather for the delayed memorial of Civil Rights Pioneer Elbert Williams at Haywood High School. Williams is the first known National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) official to be killed for his involvement in the local civil rights movement.
Light refreshments will be provided. The memorial service will begin promptly at 9 a.m. in the gymnasium and will feature NAACP National President Cornell William Brooks as the guest speaker.

At 11 a.m., a state historical marker will be unveiled in downtown Brownsville.

Following the unveiling, members of the Elbert Williams Memorial Committee will be available for media interviews at the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, 121 W. Main Street, on the first floor level.

A brief service will be held at 1 p.m. at Taylor Cemetery, where Williams is buried.

Follow this link to view a map and directions for Saturday’s memorial service:

A live stream of the memorial service will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.  Log on to to view. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review: The Civil War Navy in Florida

Mattson, Robert A. The Civil War Navy in Florida. Self published, Palatka, FL. 2014. 194 pages, 161 pages of text. 2 appendices, bibliography, index. B/w photos. ISBN 9780692258743, $18.99.

The Civil War in Florida is an area that is starting to receive more and more interest. In the past few years there have been several major academic works to be published including those by Zach Waters and also by Jonathan Sheppard. I have made my own small contribution to the literature on the state during the war. Historians often find source material thin and many times interest low. "Oh, nothing happened there" is often heard.

An area that has been often ignored is the role of the Navy, both Union and Confederate, during the War. George Buker has written a very good book but it deals strictly with the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Living historian and blogger Rob Mattson has written a book that helps fill in some of the gaps.

The book starts out with a chapter outlining Civil War navies including a look at the major players, a listing of ranks and a discussion about integration in the US Navy; 16% of enlisted sailors were black according to Mattson. The second chapter gives a general overview of the Navies at the start of the war and their role in Florida. The Confederates really had none while the Union was taking over major ports and yards while attempting to impose a blockade.

The next four chapters discuss various geographic points in Florida and the actions that took place there: the Panhandle, Northeast, South and Tampa Bay. These chapters generally run chronologically. The final chapter covers 1865 and Mattson's concluding thoughts.

The book concludes with an appendix covering the major ships including type, dimensions and known armaments. This information is compiled from the ORN. A second appendix covers historical sites associated with the Navies that can be visited. The bibliography is broken down by books, articles and web resources.

As with many self published (and for that matter traditionally published) books there are some editing issues. On page 11 James McPherson is referred to as Bruce McPherson. Later on the Union ship Ethan Allen is spelled both Ethan and Ethen. These are really minor quibbles in an otherwise fine book.

While certainly not the final word on naval actions in the state of Florida this is a very good start and one that anybody studying the subject, or Florida in the War, should considering owning.

By way of full disclosure: Mr. Mattson has provided a review copy of this book and will also be speaking at the museum where I am employed.

New Releases from Southern Illinois University Press

Thanks going out to Southern Illinois University Press for sending along copies of two new releases. The Grant book looks particularly interesting especially since I have failed to read his Memoirs yet.

Marszalek, John F. editor. The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant (The World of Ulysses Grant) .
Famous for his military acumen and for his part in saving the Union during the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant also remains known for his two-volume memoirs, considered among the greatest military Memoirs ever written. Grant’s other writings, however, have not received the same acclaim, even though they show the same literary skill. Originally published in the thirty-two volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, the letters and speeches are the major source of information about Grant’s life and era and have played a key role in elevating his reputation to that of the leading general of the Civil War and the first of the modern presidents. In this collection, editor John F. Marszalek presents excerpts from Grant’s  most insightful and skillfully composed writings and provides perspective through introductory comments tying each piece to the next. The result is a fascinating overview of Grant’s life and career.

In sixteen chronological chapters, selections from Grant’s letters and other writings reveal his personal thoughts on the major events of his momentous life, including the start of the Civil War, the capture of Vicksburg, Lincoln’s reelection, Lee’s surrender, his terms as president, the Panic of 1873, and his bouts of mouth and throat cancer. Throughout, Grant’s prose reveals clearly the power of his words and his ability to present them well. Although some historians have maligned his presidency as one of the most corrupt periods in American history, these writings reinforce Grant’s greatness as a general, demonstrate the importance of his presidency, and show him to be one of the driving forces of the nineteenth century.

With this compendium, Marszalek not only celebrates the literary talent of one of America’s greatest military figures but also vindicates an individual who, for so long, has been unfairly denigrated. A concise reference for students of American history and Civil War enthusiasts as well as a valuable introduction for those who are new to Grant’s writings, this volume provides intriguing insight into one of the nineteenth century’s most important Americans.

Medford Edna Greene. Lincoln and Emancipation (Concise Lincoln Library).

In this succinct study, Edna Greene Medford examines the ideas and events that shaped President Lincoln’s responses to slavery, following the arc of his ideological development from the beginning of the Civil War, when he aimed to pursue a course of noninterference, to his championing of slavery’s destruction before the conflict ended. Throughout, Medford juxtaposes the president’s motivations for advocating freedom with the aspirations of African Americans themselves, restoring African Americans to the center of the story about the struggle for their own liberation.

Lincoln and African Americans, Medford argues, approached emancipation differently, with the president moving slowly and cautiously in order to save the Union while the enslaved and their supporters pressed more urgently for an end to slavery. Despite the differences, an undeclared partnership existed between the president and slaves that led to both preservation of the Union and freedom for those in bondage. Medford chronicles Lincoln’s transition from advocating gradual abolition to campaigning for immediate emancipation for the majority of the enslaved, a change effected by the military and by the efforts of African Americans. The author argues that many players—including the abolitionists and Radical Republicans, War Democrats, and black men and women—participated in the drama through agitation, military support of the Union, and destruction of the institution from within. Medford also addresses differences in the interpretation of freedom: Lincoln and most Americans defined it as the destruction of slavery, but African Americans understood the term to involve equality and full inclusion into American society. An epilogue considers Lincoln’s death, African American efforts to honor him, and the president’s legacy at home and abroad.

Both enslaved and free black people, Medford demonstrates, were fervent participants in the emancipation effort, showing an eagerness to get on with the business of freedom long before the president or the North did. By including African American voices in the emancipation narrative, this insightful volume offers a fresh and welcome perspective on Lincoln’s America.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Week of Losses

This week has been a tough one for those of us who study history.

April 14 and 15 mark the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

April 15 marks the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Today I also received the news of the passing of a true Civil War scholar; Elizabeth Brown Pryor who passed away in an automobile accident yesterday. You may read more about her and the accident here. The book she is most known for in Civil War circles would be Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters.