James McPherson's favorite books and authors

In a New York Times interview, James McPherson recently identified some of his favorite authors and books. I thought I'd add some fun links to the names below.

Best ACW book ever: Allan Nevins' Ordeal of the Union. (Scroll down to the sixth para where Nevins plagiarism is discussed.)

Favorite ACW biography: "Jean Edward Smith, Grant. (See my posts, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).*

"Most important military history ever written": John Keegan's Face of Battle.

One of "the best historians writing today": Eric Foner.

In the "first rank of military historians": Craig Symonds, Gary Gallagher, Joseph Glatthar.

Happy reading!

* Smith and McPherson make beautiful music together:

McPherson: "He may have been an alcoholic in the medical meaning of that term. He was a binge drinker." [BCOF P 588]
Smith: "Grant was a binge drinker. In a clinical sense, he may have been an alcoholic." [Grant P. 231]

McPherson: "For months he could go without liquor, but if he once imbibed it was hard for him to stop." [P 588]
Smith: "He could go for months without a drink, but once he started it was difficult for him to stop." [P. 231]

McPherson: "His wife and his chief of staff John A. Rawlins were his best protectors." [P 588]
Smith: "For the most part, Grant remained sober, protected from alcohol by his adjutant, Colonel John Rawlins, and especially by Julia." [P. 231]

Smith can also make Catton's dead prose come alive!

Catton (Grant Takes Command): "Grant saw more of the fighting here than he did in the Wilderness because the country was more open."
Smith (Grant): "Grant was able to witness more of the fighting at Spotsylvania than in the Wilderness because the terrain was more open."

Catton: "During the afternoon he saddled up and rode out to several points where he could watch the fight for the tip of the salient."
Smith: "During the afternoon he ordered his reliable pony Jeff Davis saddled and rode out to several points where he could observe Hancock's troops fighting at the tip of the mule shoe and Wright's assault on the west angle."

Catton: "It seemed to him that on balance things had gone well and that evening back at headquarters he sent Halleck a wire summing up his impression [quotes wire]."
Smith: "On balance, Grant thought things were going well. Back at headquarters that evening he wired Halleck [quotes and paraphrases wire]."

Catton: "On the evening of May 11 Grant had sent Julia an optimistic message [quotes message]."
Smith: "Later he wrote Julia he was well and full of hope [quotes message]."