The newly released “The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War” by Little-Brown is instantly the best resource of its kind on the market, and well it should be. The senior writer and editor in the Publishing Office has led an effort to produce a first-rate reference book. Every public library should have this book and even the casual Civil War enthusiast will thoroughly enjoy perusing its pages.
It’s a typical over-sized reference book ( 13 x 9 3.4), but thin enough – with just 240 pages – to stand alongside one’s existing Civil War atlases. The layout is consistent, pleasing, and chalked full of interesting quotes and with more than 350 color illustrations.
The illustrations are not just eye-candy for the reader either, although many of the images used in the book are very rare. A few I have to admit I’ve never seen before. One will find
manuscripts in Lincoln’s own hand, onsite drawings made by a Civil War combat artist, maps, color lithographs, political cartoons, posters, [and] period photographs.
Margaret E. Wagner is no stranger to Civil War reference books either. She is the co-author and co-editor of “The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference” and “The Library of Congress World War II Companion.” She is also the author of “The American Civil War: 365 Days,” “World War II: 365 Days,” and “Maxfield Parrish and the Illustrators of the Golden Age.”
Most pages are divided into two parts. The top half (about 40% of the page layout) contains the artfully chosen illustrations to supplement the text. My favorites are images of actual hand-drawn pictures from the period. The bottom 60% of the page contains the text based on a pertinent event for a given day of the month/year.
I was delighted to even find an entry for May 12-13th, 1862, for the escape of The Planter by Robert Smalls and his clandestine crew. The inclusion of this event shows the editor and her staff are well-informed as to an event that is normally overlooked by most resources of its kind.
The fine book retails for just $35.00 but can be purchased from Amazon for a mere $22.00 or so.