Harold Holzer: Given a month off this summer, which Civil War sites would you visit and what new books would you read?

With a free month this summer--fortunately, for a guy who likes to work, an unlikely prospect as we mark the 150th anniversary of the first battle of the war--I would certainly dust off my list of neglected (by me) Civil War sites and make the circuit with pleasure.

First, I would go back to Manassas (anniversary appropriate), and probably return to Antietam as well, which I have not seen for years. But most of all I would want to see and check off the two major spots I’ve somehow missed, even after forty years of research and writing: no less than the places where the war began and ended. I admit it: I’ve never visited Charleston or Appomattox, never seen Fort Sumter or the McLean House. Since I can’t imagine finding the free time I need to close this experience gap, maybe a speaking engagement will beckon: consider this a shameless advertisement.

As for new Civil War books, I’m trying to keep up with the major ones as quickly as they appear, most recently and most enjoyably, Gary Gallagher’s “Union War”. I’d like to find the time for Gary Stoker’s “The Grand Design”. But with a free month I think that, above all, I’d re-read all of Allan Nevins. I devoured his multi-volume Civil War history decades ago, and these days every time I dip into it I’m not only informed but mesmerized. He deserves a new wave of appreciation, and a new generation of readers.

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