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Chapter 21 - Team of Rivals

Happy Memorial Day! For many this past weekend announced the official start of summer, for us it is the start of our busy season where we take a deep breath, restock our books, and wait for all our wonderful summer friends to visit. Along with that, I always stop to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

It's not that I don't appreciate the lives given by men and women in other wars but I have to imagine what horror the Civil War brought to the young American nation. Men and women who were friends, relatives, and political allies were broken apart. Soldiers died in battles far away from homes, many not even really knowing what they were fighting for. It was a time of extreme social upheaval and the devastation and pain of it, for both sides, is still being felt many years later.

If, like me, you are a reader of history, both novelized and non-fiction, here are some books to consider as you relax on Memorial Day which was started to honor those killed during the American Civil War.

Team of Rivals; The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin - This book was the basis for the wonderful movie Lincoln and tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln moved his political rivals into an united team. It is well worth the 916 page read!

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks - One of the last major and most devastating battles of the Civil War took place in 1864 in the town of Franklin, Tennessee. Not only were over 10,000 men killed but the town itself became a burial ground. Carrie McGavock finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a hospital where she encounters a young rebel soldier who she refuses to let die.

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly - A terrific book by O'Reilly and Dugard that details what happened before, during, and after Lincoln was shot.

Mrs. Lee's Rose Garden: The True Story of the Founding of Arlington National Cemetery by Carlo DeVito - A descendant of George Washington, Mary Ann Randolph Custis Lee lived in a beautiful home called Arlington, one which had been in her family for generations. A spirited and intelligent woman, with a knack for gardening, she married a promising rising soldier, Robert E. Lee. The book is an intimate telling of how Mrs. Lee lost her home in the Civil War and what ultimately became of it.

Neverhome by Laird Hunt - Ash, not her real name, has left her home and donned the clothing of a man to serve in the war. Her story of battles against the South and her final return home are worthy of reading.

Do you have any favorite stories of the Civil War? Let me know.

You can order these or other books at

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