This series is curated by Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com.
It will be kicked off with a live interview program from Fountain on April 14. Hogan will interview the author of 1861.
Give the hardback General series or one of our smaller packages as a gift to your favorite Civil War buff or join one of the paperback clubs for an introduction to the nation's greatest conflict.
Follow Ron on Beatrice.com to join the discussion.
All shipments from this series will include bonus materials from our publisher friends, Beatrice.com and the Fountain Bookstore.
From Ron Hogan:
I've been mulling over the idea of reading my way through the 150th anniversary of the Civil War for several years now. Originally, I didn't think to do anything more than blog about the books as I was reading them; it's only quite recently that I hit upon the notion of creating a book club and inviting other people to read along with me. So what was the original impulse? I recently attended an event with theatrical producer Peter Sellars that put this project into perspective for me. One of the audience members asked about a college course called "Art as Moral Action" that Sellars teaches regularly at USC, and how he chooses the semester-long themes the class covers, and he replied, "One of my rules as a teacher is to only teach things I don't understand & can't deal with." He's grappling with the material right alongside his students, learning as much from them as they are from him.
I'm in something of a similar position. I know a bit about the Civil War: It started at Fort Sumter, it ended four years later at Appamattox, there was a fight at Gettysburg at some point between the two, and then somewhere else in the middle Lincoln freed the slaves. Actually, I know a bit more than that, but my knowledge is more like a collection of factoids than a coherent narrative. So I want to understand the Civil War more fully than I do right now, and the 150th anniversary seems like a good time for me to become more familiar with a crucial turning point in our nation's history. Over the next four years, as we read about the battles and the people and the issues involved, I won't have very many answers, but ideally I'll be in a position to raise the kinds of questions you're asking yourself about the Civil War, and to hear other questions you might have, and we can learn about it all together.
In addition to the official book club selections, in both the hardcover and paperback tracks, I'll also be using this blog to talk about many other books that shed an additional light on the Civil War, keeping as close a track as possible to the anniversaries as they occur. One of the first books I've already started reading is a new anthology called The Civil War: The First Year By Those Who Lived It, which collects dozens of first-hand accounts--newspaper editorials, journal entries, private correspondence, and so on--from people caught up in the emerging conflict, from the eve of Abraham Lincoln's election in November 1860 to his frustration at the Union Army's slowness at pressing the fight in January 1862. Reading Sam Houston's explanation of why he won't support the withdrawal of Texas from the United States, or Jefferson Davis's farewell address to the Senate after the secession of Mississippi, you begin to appreciate how momentous the months leading up to the first battle at Fort Sumter were. And in reading the letter Samuel J. English sent to his mother in Rhode Island after the battle at Manassas, or the diary of Charleston native Emma Holmes after receiving news of the battle, the effect of the conflict on ordinary citizens on both sides becomes that much more real. It's this sense of immediacy that I'm hoping to achieve as we read our way through the War Between the States, and I suspect I'll be returning to this book repeatedly in the months ahead.