Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What I Last Read

North Carolina Civil War Documentary

ISBN: 0807853585

So long since I've reported on my reading, this seems like the beginning of a new weekly post. North Carolina Civil War Documentary isn't a huge book, but one I don't recommend as a cover-to-cover read either. Don't mistake me, it's a great resource - original materials that have been cleaned up a categorized, but too inconsistent to read through as a stand alone work. If you do research on war-time North Carolina this is the book to go to first. If you want a crackin' good read, then you may want to opt for another book.

Although I had a time slugging through this book (or more accurately compilation), I was able to uncover some gems for my own research. In all honesty, the book only purports to be a resource, not a crackin' good tale. The chapters are laid out by topic of the materials, be it letters, diary entries or pages from lost memoirs. The book is topic-driven so the materials tend to jump around the Civil War period, not going in the typically linear fashion that makes it easy on a reader's mind. But the organization is great for doing research.

My only real critisim of North Carolina Civil War Documentary is actually in the chapter narratives written by John Barrett and Buck Yearns . I'm familiar with Barrett's great book, The Civil War in North Carolina , a comprehensive must-read for NC CW buffs. This time though, I found myself not wanting to be told what I need to get out of these original materials, and a couple times disagreeing with the narrative's findings. I want to come to my own conclusions about what the authors meant, not to be guided into thinking what someone else's interpretation is. Afterall, this book is a resource best left up to interpretation.

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