New books I wish I had read in 2004

(1) Bugle Resounding: Music And Musicians Of The Civil War Era by Kelley and Snell. A certain purchase in 2005. I'm looking forward to this essay collection.

(2) Army of the Pacific: Its Operations in California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, etc. 1860-1866 by Aurora Hunt. I get tingly just looking at the title. You get 100 arcana points just working this book into a conversation (or a blog). Pricey, though.

(3) Memoirs of Thaddeus S. C. Lowe. Can you ever get enough Civil War military ballooning?

The rest of this list features attempts at revision of the predominant (Centennial-era) interpretations of the Civil War era.

(4) Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader by McKinney. Vance is a well known, interesting, and overexposed figure. McKinney argues he was "as a far more complex figure than has been previously recognized." There are some pop history overtones here that scare me, but for now, Viva complexity!

(5) Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan by Wittenberg. Wittenberg, another author-attorney, specializes in Union cavalry history; I've long considered him weak and wrong on doctrinal history and pretty much in step with the American Heritage editorial board of 1961. Here, however, he proposes that Sheridan was much worse of a general than we ever thought possible - a nice break with the conventional wisdom that should be encouraged through book-buying.

(6) Scalawags: Southern Dissenters in the Civil War and Reconstruction by Baggett. I'm not clear on the revisions embodied here, however the book surveys an enormous number of individual cases. This looks like a cornerstone study, whether or not it reaches any conclusions.

(7) Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854 by Earle. A head-on debunking of the current wisdom that free-soil politics was watered-down abolitionism and a cop-out for anti-slavery men. It's going to follow the excellent Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party very nicely, as soon as I finish that massive tome.