Bruce Levine


Bruce Levine has emerged as one of the Civil War's premier historians, an esteemed professor, and a savvy author who brings the nineteenth century alive in the pages of his histories of Emancipation and the war's social and economic impact upon the United States. His latest, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South is a riveting look at the 1860s American South, before and after the decline of the Confederacy. This week, Levine recommends three books that have shaped his studies and share his spirit of inquiry into the origins of modern America.


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The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War

By Kenneth M. Stampp


"Kenneth Stampp (1912-2009) was a (maybe the) giant among Civil War historians of his generation. He led the scholarly assault on then-influential schools of thought that 'whitewashed' slavery and/or depicted the war as an unnecessary one produced by a 'blundering generation' of politicians.  Some essays in this collection -- notably 'Lincoln and the Secession Crisis' and 'The Irrepressible Conflict' -- contain more wisdom about the war's actual origins than can be found in many full-length books."



Free At Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

Edited by Ira Berlin, Barbara J. Fields, Stephen F. Miller, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland


"Since 1982, the Freedmen and Southern Society Project, based at the University of Maryland, has produced one fascinating volume after another that brim over with original documents and insightful essays that illuminate the destruction of slavery in the U.S. Free at Last contains a choice selection of those documents that allow the people of the time to speak to us."



The Republic in Crisis, 1848-1861

By John Ashworth


"In this outstanding study, the author gives us a meticulous and very readable account of how the major political ideologies of the antebellum era took shape and how each helped bring on the Civil War. No one has treated this important subject with as much thoroughness and subtlety."

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.