Now Available: Turning Points of the American Civil War


We’ve received word from our partners at Southern Illinois University Press that “books are in the warehouse.” Turning Points of the American Civil War has arrived—the first volume in our new “Engaging the Civil War” Series with SIUP!

“This collection of essays assumes that the Civil War unfolded as a continuum of events with several major turning points, one leading to the next leading to the next,” write co-editors Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White in their introduction to the collection.

Turning Points of the American Civil War represents a remarkable team effort by Emerging Civil War as a whole. Not only does the book contain essays by ten fantastic historians, but a slew of folks have provided supplemental content for the ECW website that ties directly into the book. You’ve been seeing—and will see more of—some of those posts, but other material is web-exclusive for readers who buy the book. Readers can scan a QR code in each chapter that will take them to a page on the blog devoted specifically to that chapter of the book. Those pages feature special commentary by ECW’s chief historian, Christopher Kolakowski, along with related images, links to additional resources, and other pieces that are in conversation with the book’s essays.

Noted Gettysburg historian Tom Desjardin, author of These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory, provides a thought-provoking foreword for the book. Was Gettysburg “the” turning point, or has our collective memory just been shaped in such a way that we think so?

That premise kicks off a series of essays that look at a number of key moments in the war:

  • “Confidence Renewed: Surviving Bull Run and the Birth of the Army of the Potomac” by Robert Orrison
  • “Unintended Consequences: Ball’s Bluff and the Rise of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War” by James Morgan III
  • “Defeated Victory: Albert Sidney Johnston’s Death at Shiloh” by Gregory A. Mertz
  • “’The Heavyest Blow Yet Given the Confederacy’: The Emancipation Proclamation Changes the Civil War” by Kevin Pawlak
  • “The Cresting Tide: Robert E. Lee and the Road to Chancellorsville” by Kristopher D. White
  • “Vicksburg: The Victory That Unleashed Ulysses S. Grant” by Daniel T. Davis
  • “’Oh, I Am Heartily Tired of Hearing about What Lee Is Going to Do’: Ulysses S. Grant in the Wilderness” by Ryan Longfellow
  • “Far Better in the Present Emergency”: John Bell Hood Replaces Joseph E. Johnston” by Stephen Davis
  • “The Point of No Return: Turning Points within the 1864 Presidential Election and the Doom of the Confederacy” by Rea Andrew Redd

Mackowski and White introduce each chapter with introductory essays that shed light on how these events are typically remembered today rather than as turning points. Their introduction, and the book’s conclusion, suggest there may be other turning points, as well—an idea ECW is currently exploring as part of our “turning points” series on the blog.

Coming in at 272 pages, with 31 illustrations—including some original Hal Jespersen maps—Turning Points of the American Civil War has a list price of $24.95 for paperback or ebook. (click here to order)

And of course, the theme for our 2018 Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge is borrowed from this essay collection. Tickets for the event, which runs Aug. 3-5, 2018, are on sale now at the early-bird price of $130—order yours today!

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