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Smithsonian Civil War
Inside the National Collection
Author: Smithsonian Institution; Edited by Neil Kagan; Foreword by Jon Meacham
ISBN 13: 978-1-58834-389-5
ISBN 10: 1588343898
Hardcover Price: $40.00


Smithsonian Civil War is a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book featuring 150 entries in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  From among tens of thousands of Civil War objects in the Smithsonian's collections, curators handpicked 550 items and wrote a unique narrative that begins before the war through the Reconstruction period. The perfect gift book for fathers and history lovers, Smithsonian Civil War combines one-of-a-kind, famous, and previously unseen relics from the war in a truly unique narrative.

Smithsonian Civil War takes the reader inside the great collection of Americana housed at twelve national museums and archives and brings historical gems to light. From the National Portrait Gallery come rare early photographs of Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant; from the National Museum of American History, secret messages that remained hidden inside Lincoln's gold watch for nearly 150 years; from the National Air and Space Museum, futuristic Civil War-era aircraft designs. Thousands of items were evaluated before those of greatest value and significance were selected for inclusion here. Artfully arranged in 150 entries, they offer a unique, panoramic view of the Civil War.



On sale date: 10/29/13

Hardcover (978-1-58834-389-5) and e-book (978-1-58834-390-1) formats available.

Featured in the 2013 holiday gift book lists of USA Today, Associated Press, Seattle Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.


Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review:

For the 150th anniversary of the war, 150 lushly illustrated thematic essays about both the objects the various Smithsonian sites hold and the people associated with them.

With the help of a cast of thousands, including Hyslop (Contest for California: From Spanish Colonization to the American Conquest, 2012, etc.), Kagan—former publisher of Time-Life Books and editor of other Civil War titles (Great Battles of the Civil War, 2002, etc.)—has assembled a striking collection of images with some equally clear words to accompany them. The selections range from the expected to the surprising. Among the former are entries on Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Clara Barton, George B. McClellan, J.E.B. Stuart and William T. Sherman—and, of course, Abraham and Mary Lincoln. But surprises appear almost everywhere. The pottery of slave David Drake, plaster casts of Lincoln’s hands and face (from 1860), messages scratched inside Lincoln’s watch, the various uniforms worn throughout the conflict, various surgical devices, a recipe (sort of) for hardtack, musical instruments, a lithograph of prisoners playing baseball, a violin carried by a soldier, images of early plans for winged aircraft, the chairs and tables used at Appomattox, the coffee cup Lincoln drank from the night of his assassination, the hoods worn by those convicted of and hanged for Lincoln’s murder, stunning photos of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman—these are among the many delights that await readers. Most grim are the devices and inventions whose functions were to maim and kill: firearms, mortars, the Bowie knife, the accouterments of slavery. There are also plenty of images of the wounded, the dying and the dead. With each turn of the page, there are countless grisly reminders of the things human beings are capable of doing to one another: enslavement, murder, riot, combat, bombing, and on and on.

Beauty dances with horror on virtually every page.


“These photographs of artifacts and images from the Civil War make that traumatic era come alive in a way that mere words cannot convey.  I found new items as well as old standbys in this book, which stimulated imagination and memories of many hours viewing the objects that connect us to that crucial part of our past.”

--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

“Opening this book is like being handed a key to the Smithsonian's treasure vault. The artifacts and their stories make history tangible, intimate, and real.”

--Adam Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening

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