Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New---Handy and Dandy: The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Civil War

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Civil War, William L. Barney, Oxford University Press, 2001, revised and updateted 2011, 378 pp., b/w illustrations, maps, index, appendices, $18.95.

With about 250 entries, a general chronology, a list of museums and historic sites, a list of websites and a bibliography, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Civil War is a fine resource at a reasonable price. The binding is well made and the book opens easily and the spine does not crease. The illustrations are on nearly every page and support the text. Cartoons, sheet music, portraits, sketches, posters, flags and black and white period photographs are among the illustrations, some of which are familar and others are those that are less frequently seen.

Among the entries are military commanders, political leaders, legislation, social groups, advocates, ideologies, and documents. The range of the entries run from antebellum to postbellum subjects. How about the Kenner Mission? Yes, Jefferson Davis sent Duncan Kenner to Europe in January 1865 with authority to state that the Confederacy would emancipate its laves in return for the immediate recognition of it exstence as a legal government. A surprise to Confederate ambassadors abroad, they gave the opportunity to England and France, which rejected it. Upon learning of the rejection, Davis lobbied for the for a Confederate programs of arming and then freeing slaves.

What was the role of gold during the war? What role did political dissent play in the Union and the Confederacy? What was the platform of the Constititional Union party during the 1860 election? What was the role of the U.S. Congress' Committee on the Conduct of the War? These questions, as well as others, are addressed in the The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Civil War. Each entry is concluded with 'Further Reading' that mentions of the standard books on the topic. Also, See Also guides users to related topics. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Civil War well serves both casual and frequent readers of Civil War history.

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