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Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents (Civil War in the Great Interior) Paperback – November 3, 2009
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Documents are important for historians to work with. Many people do not understand how historians develop their interpretations. One of the goals I have in my classroom is to use primary source documents so that students can see the actual words of the people of the past, and not just the interpretations of historians. This way students can use the documents to consider why the people of the past acted in the way they did. This book is a good resource for that purpose.
I have found this to be a quite useful tool for my own research as well. It is definitely not the sum total of all documents dealing with the subject. No book could hold them all. Yet, it is a worthy cross-section of the documents. Siddali begins with the issue of slavery which dominated the politics of the era and drove the conflict between Americans that would later result in the Civil War. From there she explores the division of the state’s peoples which is a fascinating subject of its own. I find that too many people focus on the battles or guerrillas instead of the people themselves. The actions of the people would be the ultimate deciding factor for which side would control the state.
That leads to documents that explore how civilians saw the conflict. My current research is in this area as it applies to Northeast Missouri. That is an area that has seen little research, but is interesting in its own right. Siddali focused on the state wide view which is understandable. No area of the state was exactly like another area. Everyone differed which is perfectly normal for people to do; just see modern Missouri today. Students often realize this after studying documents and it helps to expand their knowledge and understanding of why things happened in the manner which they did.
I like the book and the documents. I don’t see any serious flaws with it. Siddali used very good sources. The only drawback I see with it would be to have included more individual correspondence such as letters from civilians although the book does have a good selection of it. All in all, I am happy with the book and will be using it when I develop a course on Missouri in the Civil War. I used this book in Dr. Jeremy Neely’s course on Coursera, Missouri’s Civil War and found it useful in that. So, if you are studying Missouri and the Civil War, this is definitely a book you should consider getting.