NEWS: While researching my 2020 guidebook, Bicycling Antietam National Battlefield: The Cyclist’s Civil War Travel Guide (paid link), I added a large number of reference books to my U.S. Civil War library. (The only downside to that is that I have run out of shelf space!) But it was only today that I added bibliographic annotations to my list of books on the Battle of Antietam.
You will find the book descriptions on the Civil War Cycling web page, “Antietam and C&O Canal Reading Recommendations.” Even though the web bibliography lists many dozens of books, each book offers something uniquely different, and all of them are worth reading. A lot depends on what you want and expect as a reader. I hope that my annotations help you to find your next great book on some aspect of Antietam National Battlefield. Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases when you click book links (at no cost to you).
If I had to pick one Antietam book for serious study of the Battle of Antietam, it would be this one:
Gottfried, Bradley M. The Maps of Antietam (paid link). El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2012.
The book’s left-facing pages narrate battle events for a particular time and place. The right-facing pages display beautiful color maps that visually depict the narrative.
On the other hand, although Gottfried’s atlas is excellent, my historical interests extend well beyond military tactics and battlefield maneuvers.
For a more thematic and comprehensive history of the battle, my favorite book is:
Sears, Stephen W. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam (paid link). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.
Sears’ book is a widely acclaimed American history classic. It reads like a novel but it is well-documented scholarship.
And yet even Sears’ book is not enough for me. That’s because the story of what happened in Sharpsburg, Maryland, in September, 1862 is much more than a battle story.
For its focus on farming families whose lives the battle upended, I recommend this illustrated book:
Walker, Keven M., and K.C. Kirkman. Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape (paid link). Sharpsburg, MD: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
Happy reading adventures!
I hope you can take the time to peruse all the books in Civil War Cycling’s annotated bibliography for the Battle of Antietam and the more general topics of Civil War Maryland and Tourism.
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