Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Favorite Books: The American Heritage History of the Civil War

It's been a while since I wrote about some of my favorite books when I was growing up, so I thought it was time for me to share another one with you. When it comes to reading, my favorite subjects have always been fantasy (middle grade, YA and adult), science fiction, sports history, history (American Revolution, Civil War & WWII), historical fiction, and biographies.

I was exposed to these genres and others at my local library. I first came across The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War at the library, and fell in love with it. I checked it out over and over again when I was 10 or 11. I pored over the pictures, maps and illustrations which brought the Civil War to life. Bruce Catton's narrative (he wasn't credited as an author because it was a picture history) also made the times and circumstances come to life vividly.

This book was huge to me at that age. It was a real coffee table book. It was a hardcover with over 600 pages. I really loved the paintings of the battles, and the diagrams of the battles were paintings of scenes themselves. Today, these diagrams look to me like screen shots of computer war games--very ahead of their time. Anyhow, this book really captured my imagination and made the history come alive.

I loved so much, that I managed to scrimp and save my pennies, forgoing the purchase of baseball and football cards, so that I could purchase a copy of the book. I could not find it in a bookstore, so I actually ordered it from the publisher. I came in the mail or UPS or whatever, and I was so excited to get it. This was long before the days of Amazon and ordering online (yes, my children, I know that this must be an inconceivable concept)!

I still have the book today. The price on the dust jacket is $24.95, which was quite a princely sum back in the mid-1970's. I must have saved for quite a while, or else I had some long forgotten parental help. Hmmm, have to ask mom about that one of these days.

Maybe one day, you can go to your library and see if they have a copy of this venerable classic. Then you could check it out and see what I mean. If you're not into history, go to the library anyway, and check out whatever tickles your fancy. Remember, before the Internet and Amazon, and Kindles, there was the library. Check it out!


  1. I have never read this one- but I loved hearing your story. Saving your pennies for a mail order book was a big deal back then! WOW!

    1. It was quite an event for a 12 or 13 year old. Anything coming in the mail was something to look forward to! Thanks for stopping by, Steph.