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Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–This attractive book uses artifacts and objects from the vast Smithsonian collection as the foundation for its history of the Civil War. Its 150 entries focus on important aspects of the antebellum and Civil War period, including slavery, sectionalism, the outbreak of war, battles and weapons, life on the battlefield and home fronts, Lincoln's assassination, and the war's end. Entries, which are arranged in roughly chronological order, each offer a single-page discussion of a topic and explanation of its significance. They are illustrated by one or more period or full-color photo(s) of an artifact or object that symbolizes or reflects the topic, ranging from Confederate money to the hoods used during the executions of the conspirators in Lincoln's assassination. While some of the artifacts and images have been used in other publications, many have not been published before, and as a group, they provide a comprehensive overview of the Civil War and its impact. They also show readers how physical objects can contribute to an understanding and appreciation of history. This is a beautiful and well-written book, but it assumes some reader familiarity with the Civil War, and it doesn't provide enough background information, in-depth coverage, or analysis to be very helpful to most teen researchers. It is similar in coverage and format to illustrated histories such as William J. Miller and Brian C. Pohanka's An Illustrated History of the Civil War (Time-Life, 2000) and is better suited as a browsing item for Civil War buffs or an adult audience.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MOα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* This large-format book commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War; the premise behind its publication is that “never before have Civil War treasures from throughout the Smithsonian been assembled and interpreted in one place as they are here.” The Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1846, currently comprises 19 museums and nine research centers, and from their vast collections have been photographed—in exquisite clarity—the “most valuable, significant, and interesting” Civil War–related items, ranging from valuable documents to battle flags, surgical instruments used in the field, uniforms and weapons, and an abundance of photographs, some iconic, others rarely seen. The items are arranged into groupings by specific topic, each of these groupings introduced by context-setting brief essays written by 49 contributing specialists. These chapter-topics include “Prewar Portraits” (of famous people before the war); “Sold Down the River” (internal slave trafficking); “Civil War Headgear”; “Letters Home”; “The Wartime Patent Office” (the building housing it served as a barracks and, later, as a hospital during the war); and “The Fate of Mary Lincoln.” The very reasonable price for this gorgeous storehouse of information allows its purchase for all active American history collections. --Brad Hooper