The Civil War

Subject Guides Books Reading Lists The Civil War

Historical fiction about the American war between North and South, waged from 1861 to 1865. Booklist compiled by Forbes Library Staff | Summaries from ContentCafe, NoveList, Wikipedia, | March 2011

  • Enemy Women
    by Paulette Jiles
    Follows Adair, the daughter of modest farmers in the Missouri Ozarks, who is wrongly accused of enemy collaboration by the Union militia, as she falls in love with her interrogator and embarks on a perilous journey to find her family.
  • Gilead
    by Marilynne Robinson
    As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.
  • The Known World
    by Edward Jones
    When a plantation proprietor and former slave--now possessing slaves of his own--dies, his household falls apart in the wake of a slave rebellion and corrupt underpaid patrollers who enable free black people to be sold into slavery.
  • Cold Mountain
    by Charles Frazier
    Inman, a wounded soldier, walks away from the front during the Civil War to return to his prewar sweetheart, Ada, who desperately works to revive a struggling farm.
  • The Widow of the South
    by Robert Hicks
    A story based on the true experiences of a Civil War heroine finds Carrie McGavock witnessing the bloodshed of the Battle of Franklin, falling in love with a wounded man with a hardscrabble past, and dedicating her home as a burial site for fallen soldiers.
  • The Killer Angels
    by Michael Shaara
    Portraits of Lee, Longstreet, and other Civil War leaders are interwoven with historical detail to provide a fictional recreation of the bloody battle at Gettysburg.
  • Bold Sons of Erin
    by Owen Parry
    Investigating the murder of a Union general who was trying to recruit Irish immigrants, Union Army detective Abel Jones follows clues to the side of an insane Russian countess who may hold the key to a significant Civil War battle. One of many Abel Jones mysteries.
  • All Other Nights: a novel
    by Dara Horn
    Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, struggles with difficult moral questions when he is ordered to murder his own uncle, who has been plotting an assassination attempt against President Lincoln.
  • The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: a novel
    by Jane Smiley
    A novel on 1855 Bloody Kansas, an armed clash between slaveholders and abolitionists, often referred to as a prologue to the Civil War. The heroine is Lidie Newton, the wife of a slain abolitionist. Dressed as a boy, she embarks on a mission of revenge against his killer.
  • The Banished Children of Eve
    by Peter Quinn
    Set at the time of the 1863 Draft Riots in NewYork City, the novel follows Irish immigrants as they try to avoid CivilWar conscription while battling blacks they fear are taking their jobs. There is a romance between an Irish actor who plays blacks in minstrel shows and a black actress.
  • Beloved
    by Toni Morrisson
    Morrison encapsulates the horror of slavery and the consuming passion of motherhood in a single act of defiance by a runaway slave. The story of Sethe's violation, her determined escape, and its horrific consequences is slowly played out in memory and gossip, as Morrison hints at the terrible secret in the woman's past.

Oldies but Goodies

  • The Red Badge of Courage
    by Stephen Crane
    Henry Fleming, a young Union soldier, struggles with his conflicting emotions about violence, death, and the nature of bravery in this ironic, skeptical account of the Civil War.
  • Andersonville
    by MacKinlay Kantor
    A senile general administering Andersonville Prison in Georgia during the Civil War allows many Union soldiers to suffer from exposure, disease, and starvation.
  • Gone with the Wind
    by Margaret Mitchell
    Scarlett O'Hara faces and survives the Civil War and Reconstruction and marries Rhett Butler for his money because her true love has married someone else.

Category: Reading Lists, Historical Fiction

Page last changed: October 18, 2013, at 01:24 PM EST.