My “Civil War” Summer

Being back at the cottage after my brief hiatus to the air-conditioned comfort of my home in Illinois last weekend, I actually got back to work today on the sequel to my first book. I must plead guilty to being a bit sketchy this summer in the “disciplined writer” department. Trouble is, the cottage bookshelf above the microwave is full of wonderful books that have—and will—take up my valuable writing time.

This being my “Civil War Summer” I simply cannot get enough of the historical fiction of Jeff Shaara and of his late father, Michael. Killer Angels, The Last Full Measure, and Gods and Generals are outstanding pieces of writing about the battles and the Generals and other officers who were involved. Also, Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields: Discovering America’s Hallowed Ground rests there, waiting patiently for me to pick it up (and not be able to put down, I fear!).

Then there’s Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals still waiting for me to finish this time ‘round. I began reading it a couple of years ago but got sidetracked and seemed to have lost interest, for whatever reason, so I’ve put it on my “To Read” list once again. In that same Lincoln vein, I have Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. Published in 2006, it’s certainly not a new book by any means, but I couldn’t resist purchasing it on a recent visit to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. Besides, I can never get enough of the John Wilkes Booth stuff, which I revisited this past year in Bill O’Reilly’s excellent Killing Lincoln.

Finally, I’ll round out my reading during this “Civil War Summer” with an interesting-looking tome that I picked up on a day trip a couple of weeks ago out to Galena, home of U.S. Grant after the Civil War. The book is titled Grant and Twain: The Story of An American Friendship. I had always heard that Twain got himself out of bankruptcy by publishing General Grant’s memoirs. Grant, who was dying of throat cancer at the time, became a good friend of Twain, and I’m anxious to read the story behind it.

Now, I know I still should work in more “writing time” each day, and I’ll try…I really will! In short there’s lots to do in the days ahead. Also, there’s the latest John Sandford Prey series novel titled Stolen Prey, starring Lucas Davenport and his associates. But that just might have to wait until fall, once my “Civil War Summer” has run its course! Such problems here in the cottage by the lake in Michigan…CortlandWriter

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