Top 10 Civil War Novels

This summer, we are covering the many National Park Service (NPS) sites dedicated to remembering the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history with the greatest outcome (freedom for the country’s enslaved people).  We previously listed our Top 10 films about the war and you may recognize some of the same titles in our Top 10 Civil War novels (click here to see all our Top 10 lists).

10. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)

Just try not to picture Jude Law and Nicole Kidman while reading this novel, unless you haven’t seen the movie yet.

9. Civil War Stories by Ambrose Bierce (1891)

Before he went on to become a famous San Francisco newspaperman, Bierce served in the Union army.

8. Shiloh by Shelby Foote (1952)

A novelization of the bloody Tennessee battle by a leading historian featured prominently in Ken Burns’ documentary The Civil War.

7. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (1955)

Andersonville was an infamous prison camp and is now a National Park Service site.

6. Confederates by Thomas Keneally (1979)

The Battle of Antietam is the setting for the climax of this novel by the author of Schindler’s List.

5. The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara (1998)

Picks up where his father’s (and our #1) novel leaves off after Gettysburg.

4. The March by E.L. Doctorow (2005)

Join Sherman’s march from Georgia to North Carolina alongside a fascinating cast of characters.

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

The origin of two legendary characters of the silver screen: Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler.

2. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1894)

A classic that you might have been forced to read in grade school, but is worth a reread.

…and finally our #1 novel about the American Civil War:

1. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1975)

This book about Gettysburg also made it to #1 on our Top 10 Novels set in a National Park list.

Honorable Mentions

Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

This story of slavery is not about the Civil War, but it may have helped start it.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1891)

Some of Whitman’s best poems were inspired by his time as a nurse during the war.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

The Civil War provides the backdrop for Louisa May Alcott’s masterpiece.

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