Library Additions July 2018 (2)

Thank you to my friends at Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a copy of The Decision Was Always My Own: Ulysses S. Grant and the Vicksburg Campaign (World of Ulysses S. Grant) written by the prolific Timothy B. Smith. Smith has written heavily on the western theater of the war and may be best known for his work on Shiloh.

From the publisher website:

The Vicksburg Campaign, argues Timothy B. Smith, is the showcase of Ulysses S. Grant’s military genius. From October 1862 to July 1863, for nearly nine months, Grant tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate river city. He maneuvered and adapted numerous times, reacting to events and enemy movements with great skill and finesse as the lengthy campaign played out on a huge chessboard, dwarfing operations in the east. Grant’s final, daring move allowed him to land an army in Mississippi and fight his way to the gates of Vicksburg. He captured the Confederate garrison and city on July 4, 1863, opening the Mississippi River for the Union.

Showing how and why Grant became such a successful general, Smith presents a fast-paced reexamination of the commander and the campaign. His fresh analysis of Grant’s decision-making process during the Vicksburg maneuvers, battles, and siege details the course of campaigning on military, political, administrative, and personal levels. The narrative is organized around Grant’s eight key decisions: to begin operations against Vicksburg, to place himself in personal charge of the campaign, to begin active operations around the city, to sweep toward Vicksburg from the south, to march east of Vicksburg and cut the railroad before attacking, to assault Vicksburg twice in an attempt to end the campaign quickly, to lay siege after the assaults had failed, and to parole the surrendered Confederate garrison rather than send the Southern soldiers to prison camps.

The successful military campaign also required Grant to master political efforts, including handling Lincoln’s impatience and dealing with the troublesome political general John A. McClernand. Further, he had to juggle administrative work with military decision making. Grant was more than a military genius, however; he was also a husband and a father, and Smith shows how Grant’s family was a part of everything he did.

Grant’s nontraditional choices went against the accepted theories of war, supply, and operations as well as against the chief thinkers of the day, such as Henry Halleck, Grant’s superior. Yet Grant pulled off the victory in compelling fashion. In the first in-depth examination in decades, Smith shows how Grant’s decisions created and won the Civil War’s most brilliant, complex, decisive, and lengthy campaign.

Hardcover, ISBN 9780809336661, $34.50. 249 pages, index, notes, bibliographic essay, 7 maps, b/w photos.

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New Suspect in D.B. Cooper Case

One of the things in life that interests me but I don’t know enough about is the D.B. Cooper hijacking case.

DB CooperOn November 24, 1971 a gentleman now commonly known as D.B. Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines flight in route from Portland to Seattle. Briefly and without going into detail, Cooper passed a note to a flight attendant stating that he had a bomb and then laid out his demands: $200,000 in cash, four parachutes, and a fuel truck to refuel the plane after landing.

With demands met and the plane refueled, the Boeing 727 took flight with five on board including Cooper. Cooper outlined his flight plan with a planned refueling stop in Reno, NV. At approximately 8pm Cooper activated the rear airstairs causing a noticeable change in cabin air pressure. The flight landed in Reno at approximately 10:15p but Cooper was no longer on board. The investigation determined Cooper left the plane at approximately 8:13p. Cooper and the ransom money had vanished.

In February 1980 almost $6,000 of the ransom money was found along the Columbia River, downstream from Vancouver, WA.

In July 2016 the FBI officially suspended the active investigation.

Author Carl Laurin has recently published a book titled D.B. Cooper & Me: A Criminal, a Spy, My Best Friend” (published by Principia Media ) outlining why he believes Walter Reca is the infamous Cooper. Reca joins a long list of potential Coopers most of whom have been quickly dismissed by the FBI or they have not commented.

A recent press conference regarding the Reca theory was recently posted to YouTube and you can see it here.

Visit the FBI page on Cooper here.

Visit the National Archives page on Cooper here.

Library Additions July 2018 (1)

Thank you to my friends at Southern Illinois University Press for sending a copy of Where Valor Proudly Sleeps: A History of Fredericksburg National Cemetery, 1866–1933 (Engaging the Civil War) written by Donald C. Pfanz. This title continues the Engaging the Civil War series.

Many books discuss in great detail what happened during Civil War battles. This is one of the few that investigate what happened to the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Where Valor Proudly Sleeps explores a battle’s immediate and long-term aftermath by focusing on Fredericksburg National Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries created by the U.S. government after the Civil War. Pfanz shows how legislation created the National Cemetery System and describes how the Burial Corps identified, collected, and interred soldier remains as well as how veterans, their wives, and their children also came to rest in national cemeteries. By sharing the stories of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, its workers, and those buried there, Pfanz explains how the cemetery evolved into its current form, a place of beauty and reflection.

Donald C. Pfanz has written five books, including Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life (Civil War America) and War So Terrible: A Popular History of the Battle of Fredericksburg. In his thirty-two-year career with the National Park Service, he worked at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, Petersburg National Battlefield Park, and Fort Sumter National Monument.

ISBN 9780809336456, $26.50, 272 pages, 48 illustrations

Civil War Book Review Has New Website URL

I am a bit late on posting this but better late than never I suppose. I received this press release and wanted to pass it along.

The Civil War Book Review, a quarterly journal published by the LSU Libraries’ Special Collections Division, has released its Spring 2018 issue.

I’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room: the CWBR’s website has changed! Along with the new design, the CWBR has a new URL: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cwbr/. Using CWBR.com, however, should still redirect you to the new website. Read more about these changes in my editorial.

Now let’s take a peek at some of this issue’s great content.

Frank Williams’ reviews Lincoln’s Sense of Humor by Richard Carwardine. Williams finds Carwardine’s book a worthwhile venture for its succinct explanations of how humor helped Lincoln survive the rough-and-tumble world of antebellum politics and navigate the presidency.

For this issue’s author interview, I spoke with Brook Thomas about his new book The Literature of Reconstruction: Not in Plain Black and White.   In the interview, Dr. Thomas not only shared his thoughts about the period’s major novels, but he also explained why the era’s fictional works are essential for understanding the era’s political and legal debates.

In Civil War Obscura, our new column about classic books, Meg Groeling takes a close look at Mary Chestnut’s diaries. Groeling not only revisits Chestnut’s significance as an eye-witness, but also provides a short history about the book’s life after its original 1905 publication.

Special Collections librarian Hans Rasmussen discusses the fortifications of Civil War Washington, D.C. in this issue’s Civil War Treasures column. Be sure to view the detailed sketches Hans included by downloading the images from the supplemental materials link beside the article’s abstract.

Some of our reviews include Gaines Foster’s look at Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy and Mark Cheathem’s appraisal of The Lost Founding Father  by William J. Cooper. 

As always I want to thank the CWBR’s contributors for their hard work, and our readers for their patience and attention.

Editorial Staff
Civil War Book Review
108A Hill Memorial Library
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cwbr/