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Old 12-31-2016, 12:31 PM   #1
issybird
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Antebellum America: Fiction recommendations

One of my reading concentrations for next year is to be Antebellum America (non-fiction). Yet historical fiction set during a period or fiction from the period itself can do a lot to enhance understanding of a time and lay the groundwork for stodgier tomes and also provides an option when something lighter is needed.

So I thought I'd ask for recommendations. I have an elastic definition of antebellum, as I'm stretching it to include going back to colonial times (or earlier), my one real criterion is that the book not be what I've seen called "mistorical," i.e., not written with modern sensibilities or with clanging anachronisms.

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Having recently read Kate Alcott's novel The Daring Ladies of Lowell and Rachel Urquhart's novel The Visionist
I read The Visionist after having seen this. It was a new slant on the Shakers for me. I'm in Shaker territory and have visited several villages; the official take tends to be quite laudatory. The song sung by the children about their biological families was chilling.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:56 PM   #2
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Kindred is emotional and eye-opening! While it is listed as "SciFi" that is actually just the method of delivery.
After watching Roots as a child, I've always had difficulty reading or watching stories from that time period. There is always too much pain, suffering, loss, anger. But Kindred kept me engaged the entire time.

I highly recommend it.
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:06 PM   #3
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I have read Shelby Foote's nonfiction extensively. His three volume epic chronicle of the Civil War is still one of the best histories out there.

As for fiction, though, I can also recommend his novella Shiloh. It is set during the war, but touches on the personal lives and histories of those participating.
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Old 12-31-2016, 02:24 PM   #4
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A nonfiction book I've got my eye on for next year is The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother's Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times, by Ilyon Woo.
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Old 01-01-2017, 01:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyssa View Post
Kindred is emotional and eye-opening! While it is listed as "SciFi" that is actually just the method of delivery.
After watching Roots as a child, I've always had difficulty reading or watching stories from that time period. There is always too much pain, suffering, loss, anger. But Kindred kept me engaged the entire time.

I highly recommend it.
Thank you. I like time travel, so that's a plus and there's a short hold list at Philly, so I should get to it soon.

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Originally Posted by astrangerhere View Post
I have read Shelby Foote's nonfiction extensively. His three volume epic chronicle of the Civil War is still one of the best histories out there.

As for fiction, though, I can also recommend his novella Shiloh. It is set during the war, but touches on the personal lives and histories of those participating.
I've enjoyed Foote's three-volume Civil War history and have rather expected to be straying into that period. I've read one novel by him, Jordan County, which was good enough and Shiloh looks better. Thanks.

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Oh, looks good! And Audible has it as does the local university library if I decide to be cheap.
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Old 01-02-2017, 09:08 PM   #6
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Not fiction, but Mary Boykin Chestnut's diary is an exceptional look at life for the planter caste during the Civil War. My Penguin copy is title "Mary Chestnut's Diary".

There's also Michael Shaara's novelization of the Gettysburg battle. "The Killer Angels"

And finally an 8 volume set published in the early 1900's for young adults by Joseph A. Altsheler. First book is "The Guns of Bull Run"
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Old 01-02-2017, 09:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
One of my reading concentrations for next year is to be Antebellum America (non-fiction).
Quickly scanning the list of books I've read over the past twelve years, I think these were all quite good:

John Bailey, The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans

Fergus Bordewich, Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America

Julie Fenster, Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America's Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made It

Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (might be the best on this list, but no eBook )

P.S. I know you said fiction recommendations, but I don't read historical fiction.

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Old 01-04-2017, 02:16 PM   #8
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There's Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr, I've had my eye on it for years but I'm intimidated by the length, over 1000 pages. It looks like almost half of it takes place before the war in Raintree County, Indiana.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LN9ND2...ng=UTF8&btkr=1
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Old 01-05-2017, 01:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
Not fiction, but Mary Boykin Chestnut's diary is an exceptional look at life for the planter caste during the Civil War. My Penguin copy is title "Mary Chestnut's Diary".

There's also Michael Shaara's novelization of the Gettysburg battle. "The Killer Angels"

And finally an 8 volume set published in the early 1900's for young adults by Joseph A. Altsheler. First book is "The Guns of Bull Run"
Thank you. I greatly enjoyed both Chesnut and Shaara; I have a bunch of my father's Altsheler books on hand and I should check them out. I'm glad you recalled them to me.

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Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
Quickly scanning the list of books I've read over the past twelve years, I think these were all quite good:

John Bailey, The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans

Fergus Bordewich, Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America

Julie Fenster, Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America's Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made It

Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (might be the best on this list, but no eBook )

P.S. I know you said fiction recommendations, but I don't read historical fiction.
LOL, I don't really read historical fiction either, but I thought good novels might be a shortcut to an speciation of the period. Thanks for the non-fiction recommendations; more grist for the mill.

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There's Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr, I've had my eye on it for years but I'm intimidated by the length, over 1000 pages. It looks like almost half of it takes place before the war in Raintree County,
I read Raintree County as an adolescent, the best time of life for getting through those doorstoppers. Fortunately, I remember the gist of the plot well enough that I can't justify rereading it! I liked it at the time, but I think I'd find it overblown and at least borderline offensive now.

And then there's the film version, famous for being Montgomery Clift's before-and-after movie.
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Old 01-05-2017, 02:05 PM   #10
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For the antebellum lower Mississippi Valley, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would be hard to top.
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