Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

Archive for the month “March, 2016”

That Time We Went To Gettysburg…

About three years, my husband and I took a road trip down south. It was originally to visit friends in South Carolina but it ended up becoming a Civil War road trip of sorts. One of stops included Gettysburg. These are just a few of the many photos I took that day…

Of course we had to get pictures of each of us with Lincoln at the Visitor’s Center. Yes, I behaved myself whilst around the statue of my second favourite guy in the world…

Random photos of cannons, reenactors (I ogled them from afar. Yes, I have a thing for men in Civil War uniforms…)

I had to get photos of a few of the statues. I loved Lee’s but I think General Longstreet was one of my favourites…

Of course we stopped at Little Round Top (I have a massive crush on General Chamberlain). This was my favourite area. I think we spent an hour here. Jeremy’s favourite was Devil’s Den…

Finally, we went to where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address and to the Cemetery. We were the only ones there. It was so peaceful and to stand where one of my favourite speeches was given was amazing.

It was an amazing day. It was my third visit to Gettysburg and Jeremy’s first. We both want to go back very soon. It’s one of our favourite places.

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Starting the day…

This is how I’m starting the day: a wonderful book and a good cup of tea in my favourite mug.

  
It’s a grey day outside, damp and cold. I want nothing more than to stay inside, reading and drinking tea. But alas, I have to work. Such is life. I don’t start until 1 so I am going to try and use the time to get some much needed stuff done.

But I decided to take the some time for myself right off and get lost in this awesome book for even just 20 minutes. “Heart Of A Dove” written by Abbie Williams has become my “never want to put down” fiction book as of late. It’s historical fiction set just after the Civil War. It’s wonderfully written and the characters seemed to real to me from the start. I love the lead female character, Lorie. One chapter into this book and I knew it was going to be hard to put down.

I’ll be honest. This is romance and I don’t normally read romance. But I was drawn into the book because it was set post Civil War plus I love historical fiction. I LOVE THIS BOOK! It’s given me a new appreciation for romance novels because it’s so well written. It’s also the first in a series. Book 2 comes out in June and book 3 is due in 2017. I’ll say this too – I have not been eagerly awaiting the rest of the series since Harry Potter! And I’m not even done the first book! I’m also planning on reading Abbie’s other books. She’s a beautiful writer.

Once I’m done this book, I’ll be sure to give my full thoughts. For now, happy Friday. Do you have a book you’re reading today or a book for the weekend ahead?

Roundup of Civil War Books Part 1

I LOVE to read but I’m a slow reader. This is usually cause I have at least three books on the go. I’ll focus on one for awhile, go back to another, and repeat the cycle. As such, it takes me awhile to finish books. For the past year, much of my reading has focused on books to do with Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War. I’ve decided I’d like to post on occasion what books about Lincoln or the Civil War that I’ve read. Maybe occasionally I’ll post about non-Civil War stuff. You know, just to mix it up a bit.

So, I’m starting with five books that I read in 2015 (I did read more than this in 2015 but these were five of my favourites). This was when I really started pursuing my interest in Lincoln and the Civil War. Granted, the interest/obsession/love/major crush, especially with Lincoln, has been there since I was six, I kept it hidden for years because I was actually teased for it at a young age. Anyway, 2015 was the year it all took off, so to speak. Fitting, considering 2015, was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination as well as the end of the Civil War.

So, here are the first five books…

1)”Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman” by Robert L. O’Connell

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I have developed a raging crush on General William Tecumseh Sherman and part of the reason was this amazing, well-written, made me laugh out loud, made me cry, book. A brilliantly human portrayal of this talented general, I couldn’t put this book down. It was well written in a way that was down to earth and quite humorous at times. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.

Sherman’s life is covered in three parts: Part 1 is Sherman as a Military Strategist. Part 2 is Sherman as a General and his Army. Part 3 is about Sherman and his personal life. All three parts were equally interesting. My favourite part of the book was O’Connell’s description of the March to the Sea. At first I thought I’d find the way it was divided up confusing but it was not that way at all. It made the book and Sherman’s life easy to follow.

This book also made me realize some needs to make a movie or mini-series about Sherman.

2) “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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The inspiration for the brilliant Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln”. Not only is it a biography of Abraham Lincoln, it also looks at the lives of three of his “rivals”, later turned cabinet members William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates. It’s a very detailed book and a must-read for anyone who is interested in Lincoln. It’s also a book that deserves a second reading. While Lincoln is of course my favourite, it was so very interesting to learn about the lives of Seward, Bates & Chase.

3) “I Am Abraham” by Jerome Charyn

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This is a wonderfully written historical fiction book told from the perspective of Lincoln. It was such a stunning, at times very raw, human portrayal of Lincoln that it became one of my absolute favourite fiction books (next to “To Kill A Mockingbird”). I laughed, cried and felt like I somehow got to know Lincoln better through reading this book. His struggle with depression, his marriage to Mary, his relationship with his sons as well as various other historical figures (General McCLellan being one of them) are all part of this book. It is one I know I will go back and read numerous times because it’s a book you can absolutely get lost in.

4) “Lincoln’s Boys” by Joshua Zeitz

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I’ll confess. I think John Hay and John Nicolay were the hotties of their day. They’re super cute. Plus, during Lincoln’s Presidency, they probably spent more time with the President than anyone else did. As such, they came to know him quite well and of course, I wanted to know more about them. It was great to finally learn about these two men who Lincoln affectionately referred to as “his boys”. The book had some laugh-out-loud moments with some of the antics these two got up to, including their partying in Gettysburg the night before Lincoln’s great address. I also loved reading about how Nico and Hay managed to compile all their paperwork from their years with Lincoln and write what became a very detailed biography about him (which I plan to read someday). The two boys led very interesting lives before, during and after their time as Lincoln’s two secretaries. It’s a must read for any Lincoln geek.

5)”The Lincoln Letter” by William Martin

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A great, fast-paced historical fiction about the search for Lincoln’s diary. The book flips between 1860s Washington DC to the modern day. I felt like I got to know all the characters quite well and the author writes in such a way that I was able to visualize what 1860s Washington D.C. must have been like. While not a major character, Lincoln is still in the book and William Martin has done an amazing job in bringing him to life. Some of my favourite parts of the book were the ones that involved Lincoln. If you love historical fiction, this is a great one to check out.

So, those are five awesome books I read in 2015. I’ve got three books on the go right now and I’m sure I’ll discuss them in a post at some point:

  1. “Rebel Yell” by S.C. Gwynne
  2. “Heart Of A Dove” by Abbie Williams
  3. “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald

If you want, please comment and let me know what you’re reading, even if it isn’t to do with Lincoln or the Civil War. I’m always looking for new books to add to my to-read list on Good Reads. Also, please feel free to add me on goodreads.com if you’re on there.

The First One…

I have an awesome friend and fellow Abraham Lincoln fanatic who lives in Germany. She’s a pretty cool gal and I’m lucky to have her as a friend. We can talk Lincoln. I don’t have many friends I can do that with.She sent me an Abraham Lincoln mug…


And I love it.

I also collect mugs and this is my first Abraham Lincoln mug. And I know it won’t be the last.

It’s the little things that add up in the end…

“Lincoln’s Melancholy”

The other day I finished what has become one of my favourite books about Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged A President and Fueled His Greatness” by Joshua Wolf Shenk is an amazing book. It’s a stunning portrayal of the 16th President and his struggle with depression, how it shaped him as a person, what coping mechanisms he used and how having depressive insight helped him find the strength to help see America through its greatest crisis: the Civil War.
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I was intrigued to read this book for a number of reasons. Obviously, one reason is because it’s about Abraham Lincoln, and if there’s one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s learning more about him. The second reason is more personal. For my entire life, I have struggled with having anxiety disorder. I don’t recall a time in my life where I wasn’t anxious or worrying about something, usually the littlest things (but, for those of us the have anxiety disorder, those can actually seem like very big things). I’ve also tended to have a more melancholy personality. In my late teens, depression hit me. I’m now in my early 30s and yes, I still struggle with it, anxiety and mild ADD. When I found out this book existed, I knew I had to read it. I had a feeling in some way it might help. Plus: LINCOLN!

“Lincoln’s Melancholy” helped me to understand my own depression as well as depression as an illness. It’s helped me come up with a couple more coping mechanisms (like to keep laughing, which I do a lot of to begin with, but this book reaffirmed for me how important laughter is and how it’s often used by people who suffer from depression as a coping mechcanism).It also showed me what Lincoln went through, which just makes him even more amazing as a person to me. I’ve come away having an even greater love, appreciation and respect for him (I didn’t think that was possible). To know that he struggled too and managed to achieve all he did is just so inspiring and hopeful. Reading the book was also like hearing “Hey, you’re not alone” and “you can get through this”. It also reiterated to me yet again those of us who suffer from depression see the world differently than those that do not. And that’s okay.

Shenk did an incredible amount of research for this book. While the book is shorter when compared to some of the other books about Lincoln I’ve read, I feel like I  learned more about Lincoln as a person in these 243 pages than I have in reading other biographies about him. This was more the personal side of Lincoln that was presented but seeing this more personal side helps us in understanding why he was such amazing President and how he managed to accomplish the things he did in his life. Learning that he suffered from depression, that he recognized it and did not let it hold him back, is not only amazing, it’s also inspirational. And, most of all, it gives those of us that suffer from it too a hope that we can  persevere, that we don’t have to be held back. Yes, we have dark days and go through depressive episodes. Abraham Lincoln certainly did. But we can come through it, just as he did. We can become stronger than we were before, we can push through what holds us back and sure, we might see the world differently at the end of it, but that is okay. Seeing the world differently than others can make certain things become apparent to us that perhaps we didn’t see before. Most of all, it shows us again, what an amazing, timeless person Abraham Lincoln is and that in our society today, he is still relevant. The other important thing that “Lincoln’s Melancholy” shows us is this – it lets those of us that sufferer from depression know that we are not alone.

 

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