Several of you have asked for this. We're actually working on a sidebox that would have the books and the relevant posts, as they come. For now, here's what I have.
1.) Ida: A Sword Among Lions--Paula Giddings
2.) Up From History--Robert J. Norrell
3.) Capitol Men--Phillip Dray
4.) A Nation Under Our Feet--Steven Hahn
5.) Battle Cry Of Freedom--James McPherson
6.) This Republic Of Suffering--Drew Gilpin Faust
7.) Like Men Of War: Black Troops In The Civil War 1862-1865--Noah Andre Trudeau
As you can see, the list actually doesn't start out with the War. I thought it was important to show how I got interested in the first place, and how my thinking evolved. Much of it was actually led by my commenters. A few other things--rewatching Glory contribuited quite a bit. And these lectures by Yale historian David Blight are essential. You have to listen to them.
I'm about 100 pages away from finishing Like Men Of War. There's a strong possibility that I'll go with A People's History Of The Civil War next. Either that or this book American Slavery, American Freedom, which is a history of slavery in Virginia.
While I'm at it, another question: Can you guys recommend a good book on the South after the war? Not so much on Reconstruction, but on the condition of the Southern States, in terms of infrastructure, the psychology of the people etc. in the first couple years after the War. I've picked up pieces and bits of this from the books I've read, but I haven't found a volume that's focused on it.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, I've seen many, many, many recommendations on Reconstruction and/or race. Foner has come up repeatedly. As has Tony Horwitz. I mean no disrespect to them, or to any of their books, which I have no doubt are stellar. I also mean no disrespect to anyone recommending them. I just want people to be clear about the question I'm asking.
I'm asking about the condition of the railroads, postwar, the condition of people's farms, how white farmers handled the financial implications of the war. Where did all these white slaveholders who fled Sherman go? What did they see when they came back? How did they rebuild? Obviously race is part of that, as is Reconstruction. I'm looking to move the lens a bit, if possible.
Also, no fiction. Again, I mean no disrespect at all. I'm just asking a different question.