Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: Life in Civil War America

Life in Civil War America is a completely revised edition of Everyday Life in the Civil War, which was first published in 1999. Author Michael Varhola has added substantially to the 2011 edition including two new chapters and other enhancements to make this a definitive handbook for the study of the Civil War.

The book is intended to give readers a broad-based view of everyday life before, during and after the Civil War. The various elements of the era are divided into thirteen chapters covering topics such as housing, education, slang, entertainment, religion, dress, wages, shortages, food, technology and more.

Five appendixes bring up the rear of the book, including a section on Civil War photography by Maureen A. Taylor. In her piece, Taylor shares how photography was used to document the War and how images impacted those involved. Other appendixes cover the Civil War timeline, bibliography, suggested readings and resources, songs and poetry.

Genealogists will find the Introduction helpful and handy. It describes the steps to determining Civil War ancestors (including those who assisted in other areas besides battle), and ways to locate their records. General and location-specific website addresses are included in this section.

Life in Civil War America is a history book geared toward the general-interest audience. Do not expect to find your ancestor’s name in here, nor details on specific battles. However, you will get a description of the period and an introductory Civil War military lesson. Varhola’s book is ideal for writers, students (8th-college), genealogists and history buffs looking for an all-encompassing work that explains the basics of a complex era in United States history.


  1. Amy - I'd love to read this book but they don't have it for a kindle (I just checked). Boo-hiss. I guess I could go back to reading a regular book but I've gotten lazy.

    Can you tell me how I can get the Amazon icons/links on my page when I recommend a book? I've looked around on Amazon but guess I'm looking in the wrong places.

  2. Mary, I got the html code for the book from being an Amazon affiliate. Once you have an account, you're given different options (and code) for amazon products.

    If you already are an affiliate, but just don't know where to look, let me know and I'll direct you to the right place.

  3. thanks Amy, I've bookmarked it and will check it out after work today.