Nineteenth Century North and South
Bolton, Charles. Ed. The Confessions of Edward Isham: A Poor White Life in the Old South. The autobiography of a poor man published along with analyses by modern scholars.
Dew, Charles. Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge. Prize winning study of a Virginia valley iron works and its skilled enslaved workers.
Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men. The classic formulation of the Northern beliefs that became part of nineteenth-century Republican party ideology.
Harrold, Stanley. The Abolitionists and the South, 1830-1861. Focuses on antislavery activitists in the South, especially Kentucky and Virginia.
Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619-1877. Generally considered the best overview of slavery in North America.
Lebsock, Suzanne. Virginia Women, 1619-1945: “A Share of Honour”. Beautifully illustrated overview of changing roles for Virginia women.
Stevenson, Brenda. Life in Black and White. A case study of family life among whites and enslaved and free African Americans in Loudon County, Virginia.
The Coming of the Civil War
Revisionist: “Repressible Conflict”
Craven, Avery. The Coming of the Civil War. Blames southern hotheads and northern abolitionists for the failure to compromise.
Nichols, Roy. The Disruption of American Democracy. Follows the breakdown of the Democratic Party in the 1850s.
Beard, Charles and Mary. The Rise of American Civilization. The Agrarian South vs. Industrial North.
Genovese, Eugene. The Political Economy of Slavery. Sees southern planters as pre-capitalist and anti-market.
Syntheses emphasizing ideological or generational factors
Barney, William. The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860. Points to youth of secessionist delegates.
Cooper, William J. Liberty and Slavery: Southern Politics to 1860. Shows how Whigs and Democrats competed in South as to which was better defender of slavery.
Freehling, William. The Road to Disunion. Argues the importance of Deep South radicals and their suspicions about slavery disappearing from the border states.
Ash, Stephen. A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865. What the end of the war means to four Southerners, including a Virginia woman.
Ayers, Edward. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863. Uses data from Valley of the Shadow to describe the war’s meaning for a Virginia county and a Pennsylvania one.
Berlin, Ira. Slaves No More: Three Essays on Emancipation and the Civil War. Explores how the Civil War became a war of emancipation.
Hauptman, Lawrence. Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War. Focuses on the problems that war causes for Amerindians, North, South and West
McPherson, James. Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. A noted scholar’s textbook of both Civil War and Reconstruction.
Neely, Mark. The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. Prize winning study of Lincoln’s approach to civil liberties in war.
Rable, George. Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism. Explores the politicization of war on women and the problems it causes yeomen and poor white women.
Thomas, Emory. The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience. Shows how the experience of war ran against the states rights tendencies of the Confederacy.
Varon, Elizabeth R. Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew. Excellent exploration of why one Richmond white woman aided Union soldiers and supplied information.
Reconstruction and Beyond
Ayers, Edward. Southern Crossings. Short version of Ayers’ exploration of late nineteenth century South.
Carter, Dan. When The War Was Over. The Failure of Self-Reconstruction in the South. Argues a lack of vision among white southern politicians and their failure to understand what North expected.
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction. Generally considered the definitive overview.
Litwack, Leon. Been in the Storm Too Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. Focuses on the transition from slavery to freedom for white and black Southerners.
Lowe, Richard. Republicans and Reconstruction in Virginia, 1856-70. The modern account of the Republican party in Virginia before, during, and after the war.
Rable, George. But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction. Explores incidence and meaning of violence.
Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Classic study of the development of southern segregation.