Steven E. Woodworth
& Kenneth J. Winkle,
Atlas of the Civil War
(Oxford University Press, 2004)

Atlas of the Civil War is a bright and wonderful book. The maps and illustrations are colorful and easy to read, and readers will not need a magnifying glass to read them. Some of the articles that serve as introductions are by renowned Civil War expert James M. McPherson. Other articles are by war experts Steven E. Woodworth and Kenneth J. Winkle.

The atlas covers the period of history before, during and after the Civil War. The articles cover social, political and military history. There is an interesting glossary of Civil War terms that are explained in short paragraphs. There is a short bibliography for further reading, and the books listed are some of the gems on the Civil War.

The maps vary in detail depending on what they are trying to convey. Maps that describe campaigns covering a lot of territory are different from those showing a specific battle, for example. The battle maps have more details such as forts, streets and buildings.

An added dimension to this atlas is the collection of period photographs and drawings that liven up the stories. Some spectacular illustrations are also included.

There also are charts to help the reader to understand circumstances better. There is a chronology of battles and events and a list of battle sites towards the back of the book. The articles do not only cover army battles but those of the navy, too.

This atlas can serve well as an introduction to the study of the Civil War. How does it compare to The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War, which was originally published in 1891-95 and republished in 1983? Its maps, drawn from official reports of commanders in the field, are more detailed and historical in nature, but are harder to read. There also are no articles to fill in the gaps.

This new atlas will appeal to all Civil War enthusiasts and serve as an introduction to the period for those just getting interested in this subject. This atlas belongs in any Civil War collection.

- Rambles
written by Benet Exton
published 9 July 2005

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