shilohI enjoy reading about American history, which comes as no surprise to Lost Cowboy fans.  What is less known is that I am also a little bit of an American Civil War buff.  Although I never dressed up in period uniforms and reenacted encampments, I spent a great deal of my youth reading anything I could find about the war.  I especially liked reading the firsthand accounts and diaries that so many people left behind.

It had been a while since I read anything on the war when I heard that the new book Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom was due for release a couple of weeks back.  We are at the beginning of many milestone anniversaries related to the war that will be marked in the coming months and years as the war was under way 150 years ago.  In fact, we just passed the 150th anniversary of the Shiloh battle, which made reading this book even more interesting to me.

About Shiloh, 1862: “In the spring of 1862, many Americans still believed that the Civil War, ‘would be over by Christmas.‘ The previous summer in Virginia, Bull Run, with nearly 5,000 casualties, had been shocking, but suddenly came word from a far away place in the wildernesses of Southwest Tennessee of an appalling battle costing 23,000 casualties, most of them during a single day. It was more than had resulted from the entire American Revolution. As author Winston Groom reveals in this dramatic, heart-rending account, the Battle of Shiloh would single-handedly change the psyche of the military, politicians, and American people–North and South–about what they had unleashed by creating a Civil War.”

First and foremost, I have to say that I devoured this book and enjoyed it very much.  It is interesting to note that in our collective knowledge of the Civil War and what we think we know is mostly the battles and events that took place in the east, like Gettysburg and Sherman‘s March.  The western battles, of which Shiloh was huge, have never gained the same attention for whatever reason.  Mr. Groom’s book goes a long way in making this pivotal battle come alive for now and forever.

Many of the major figures of the war are here, notably General Grant, and it is interesting to read in detail about so many people and other events from a major battle early in the campaign just a year after Fort Sumter with three devastating years to come.

Mr. Groom, who perhaps is best known for writing “Forrest Gump”, is a gifted writer.  I won’t belittle his amazing grasp of history and the material by saying this book reads like a novel.  However, Mr. Groom has made the story of Shiloh and its impact accessible and compelling.  Definitely a good read for fellow history buffs and anyone who wants to know more about a pivotal part of a defining era in U.S. history.

Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom is available from Amazon and other booksellers.