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CDCWRT Book Recommendations

Monument Man: The Life & Art of Daniel Chester French

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The artist who created the statue for the Lincoln Memorial, John Harvard in Harvard Yard, and The Minute Man in Concord, Massachusetts, Daniel Chester French (1850–1931) is America's best-known sculptor of public monuments Monument Man is the first comprehensive biography of this fascinating figure and his illustrious career. Read more or purchase here.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

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The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. Read more or purchase here. 

Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps

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The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. Read more or purchase here. 

When the Irish Invaded Canada

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Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. But these former foes had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and to hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured. Read more here. 

Civil War and Agrarian Unrest: The Confederate South and Southern Italy

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Between 1861 and 1865, both the Confederate South and Southern Italy underwent dramatic processes of nation-building, with the creation of the Confederate States of America and the Kingdom of Italy, in the midst of civil wars. This is the first book that compares these parallel developments by focusing on the Unionist and pro-Bourbon political forces that opposed the two new nations in inner civil conflicts. Overlapping these conflicts were the social revolutions triggered by the rebellions of American slaves and Southern Italian peasants against the slaveholding and landowning elites. Read more here.

Natural Genius: Brutus de Villeroi and the U. S. Navy's First Submarine

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As the U.S. Navy raced in 1861 to build its own ironclad to counter CSS Virginia, a private citizen―an immigrant Frenchman speaking little or no English―offered another solution: a bateau sous-marin or submarine boat. Long-recognized in his native France as an “Engineer of the First Class” for his numerous inventions, Brutus de Villeroi had the experience of having built two previous submarines. Although frowned upon by every navy as “ungentlemanly” at best, illegal at worst, investing in the unique weapon seemed a small investment compared to the possible return; what is more, local civilians agreed to fund the work, with Washington paying only upon acceptance of the boat. Overall, it seemed a good idea. Unfortunately, nothing went as smoothly as everyone naïvely expected.

Here is the long-awaited tale of the U.S. Navy's first submarine, Alligator―the details of her construction, how she worked, her attempted missions, and ultimate loss. Read more here. 

The Decline of the Civil War Re-enactor (NY Times)

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The 155th anniversary Gettysburg re-enactment was a snapshot of a hobby with dwindling ranks.

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