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Historical Fiction: The Civil War

Looking for something a bit less popular than The Killer Angels or Gone with the Wind?

James Lee Burke
White Doves at Morning
Love triangles, battles, conflicting social and political beliefs, villains, and vigilante groups converge in this novel set in the South by one of the most respected crime novelists of all time. Privileged Robert Perry and poor immigrant Willie Burke find themselves competing for the same girl, Northern abolitionist Abigail Dowling. At the same time, tensions rise between the men and Ira Jamison, an ill-famed plantation owner who has his eyes on Abigail and whose illegitimate slave daughter Flower has been befriended by Willie and Abigail. Private and personal fights clash among the characters, culminating in an ending that will leave readers in surprise.
 
Thomas Dyja
Play for a Kingdom
Baseball and the Civil War come together in this novel that shows camaraderie can exist over enemy lines. When a Union Company from Brooklyn challenges a Confederate Company from Alabama to a baseball match on the picket lines of the Wilderness in May 1864, both companies have no idea how their views of war and life will change.
 
Thomas Fleming
When This Cruel War is Over
Based on a true story about the war in the Midwest, Major Paul Stapleton, a Union officer disillusioned by the war, is assigned to spy on the Sons of Liberty, a group of armed resisters who make attacks against the Union. Falling in love with the group founder's daughter, Janet Todd, Stapleton begins to question his allegiance to the Union and makes several decisions that could cost him more than a dismissal from the army.
 
Kaye Gibbons
On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon
At an early age, Emma Garnet Tate decides to rebel against her wealthy Southern father and the institution of slavery. In clear defiance of her father, she marries a Bostonian surgeon named Quincy Lowell, takes her father's housekeeper Clarice, and moves to Raleigh. Told in her voice in 1900, Emma reflects about her past, the Civil War, and her own personal reconstruction after the war.
 
John Jakes
On Secret Service
In a novel reminiscent of his North and South trilogy, Jakes weaves a tale of love and war around four central characters: Lon Price, a Union detective working for Allen Pinkerton; Margaret Miller, Rebel sympathizer who Lon must watch; Hanna Siegel, a young actress who dresses as a boy Union soldier to fight in the war; and Fred Dasher, the Confederate major who saves Hanna from rape. Each does his or her own part in the war effort, while at the same time falling in love with the enemy. However, events at the end of the war threaten to break apart their relationships.

 
Paulette Jiles
Enemy Women
Set in Missouri, this novel focuses on a rarely viewed part of the Civil War, the Western Theatre. When Union officers destroy all her family's possessions and take her father captive, Adair Colley must find a way to get her father back, even if it means risking her life to save him. Adair's courage is tested when she is captured by Union soldiers and taken to a woman's prison, charged as a Confederate spy. While in prison, she finds love in a very strange place, her interrogator Major William Neumann, whose promise of marriage after war just may be what she needs to get her family back together.
 
Michael Kilian
Murder at Manassas: a Harrison Raines Civil War Mystery
Harrison Raines, a wealthy Southerner by birth but a disbeliever of the Southern cause, finds himself reluctantly involved in the war when Union officials approach him to find the answers to a Union officer's death on the Manassas battleground. Raines must find out the identity of the murderer of the Union officer, whose death was far from the cowardly debacle spoken in Washington D.C. society circles. Meanwhile, Raines has some personal battles of his own, involving the love of his life, the enchanting actress Caitlin Howard, and a brash and handsome actor, John Wilkes Booth.
 
James Lehrer
No Certain Rest
There is no statute of limitations on murder. When modern day US Parks Department archaeologist Don Spaniels is called to the Antietam National Battlefield to examine the remains of a fallen Civil War soldier, he soon discovers that the gentleman did not die as a casualty of war but as a victim of murder. As Spaniels unravels the mystery, he realizes history has a way of repeating itself and must come up with the solution before another murder is committed.
 
Ann McMillan
Civil Blood: a Civil War Mystery
The home front sees its share of casualties. Richmond 1862 finds itself attacked by an invisible kind of enemy, smallpox. As the casualties rise among the women and children of the city, Narcissa Powers, Judah Daniel and Brit Wallace work together to find the reasons behind the attacks. Their detective work leads them to a seditious plot where smallpox is the lesser of the evils.
 
Owen Parry
Faded Coat of Blue
Recent immigrant Abel Jones has seen action in some of the bloodiest battles in the world in the 1800s. However, when given the position as confidential agent to Union General George McClellan, he has no idea where war can really take anyone - bordellos, saloons and gambling holes, just to name a few. Assigned the task of finding out what happened to Captain Anthony Fowler, found shot through the heart on the Virginia shore of the Potomac, Abel learns secrets about Fowler in very dark places that Fowler's idolizing supporters may not want to hear.
 
David Robertson
Booth: A Novel
At the premiere of Birth of a Nation in 1916, D.W. Griffith approaches an aging John Surratt for his story about John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination. Thus begins a narrative of Surratt's reflection of his life in 1864 and 1865, his friendship with Booth, and the conviction and execution of his mother Mary as a plotter in the assassination.
 

Updated:08/18/2009