Last night, I picked up one of my favorite books for a re-read. That book is Harsh's Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign. It is more than just a favorite. Of the hundreds of books that I own, I would list Taken at the Flood as my second favorite book, right behind Wiley's The Life of Johnny Reb.
What do I like about Harsh? The level of detail. Harsh was well-versed in his topic, and on almost every page of Taken at the Flood some new fact, or little known detail in regards to Lee and the Maryland campaign is explored in great detail, so much detail that Taken at the Flood had to be split up into three different books.
So you have my top two favorite War-related books: The Life of Johnny Reb at number one, and, Taken at the Flood as number two. What comes next? Hard to say. Probably coming in third would be Freeman's R. E. Lee, or maybe Inscoe's The Heart of Confederate Appalachia, or maybe Coddington's The Gettysburg Campaign, or maybe Beatie's series on the Army of the Potomac. I had thought at one time about writing a series on the north Georgia battles, starting with Dalton in February 1864, and through Jonesboro, in the same vein as Harsh or Beatie, but as of now, I have yet to start collecting (beyond my work on the 58th North Carolina Troops). Who knows, maybe I'll get to it one day.
Is there a new book on my shelf or on my to-order list hat could solidify the third position? Maybe. I'm looking forward to reading Hartwig's book on the first part of the Maryland Campaign. Interestingly, as I retrieved Harsh from my shelf last night and re-shelved the two books on the battle of Ox Hill, I noticed that I have eighteen books on the Maryland Campaign. That's coming close to my own small Gettysburg Collection, in which I have twenty-seven books.
I posed the question above in the title line: what's your favorite book on the War? Well?