Harman Patil (Editor)

The Civil War series

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The Civil War book series (OCLC 20080930) chronicles in great detail the American Civil War. Published by Time Life the series was simultaneously released in the USA and Canada between 1983 and 1987, with subsequent identical reprints in the late 1980s - early 1990s following suit for foreign, though untranslated, dissemination as well. Some titles focused on a specific topic, such as the blockade, and spies, but most volumes concentrated on the battles and campaigns, presented in chronological order.


Each volume in the series was 176 pages in length, heavily illustrated and with pictorial essays on specific topics within each volume and came standard without a dust jacket. Executed in hardcover, each volume was bound in silvery-gray leatherette, the cover endowed with in deep blue printed text imprints, and heavily embossed with Civil War symbology with an oval shaped illustration glued on.

There are 28 volumes in the series:


  • While the series was being released for the first time, the publisher had enabled its subscribers to separately order in gold imprinted hardboard slipcases, executed in blue and able to hold three volumes.
  • The publisher repeated this for its 1999 reprint run, but this time as gray, embossed hardcover slipcases, able to hold two volumes.
  • These slipcases are relatively rare.


    A 432-page excerpt hardcover variant edition, its chapter organization roughly following the series title order as released, was concurrently published in 1990 by educational publisher Prentice Hall as Brother against brother, Time-Life Books history of the Civil War (ISBN 0139218181), as well as by Time-Life itself in a dust jacket for the general populace under the same title (ISBN 0809478471), and was subsequently reprinted as The Time-Life history of the Civil War by Barnes & Noble Books in 1995 (ISBN 1566199026). Renowned Civil War historian James M. McPherson (who had not contributed to the main series) provided the foreword for the excerpt edition.


    A well-received series at the time, it has enticed Time-Life to delve much deeper into the subject of the American Civil War with follow-up releases as companion series, it in the process arguably becoming Time-Life's most revisited topic. These included, Collector's Library of the Civil War (1981-1985, 28 volumes – reprinted by Easton Press in 1998 with two additional titles – , deluxe reproductions of memoirs written by Civil War participants, OCLC 41657774, actually already started before the main series and therefore conceivably the de facto source publication), Echoes of Glory (1991, 3 volume box set, two volumes detailing the arms and equipment of both respective armies, the third one being an historical atlas of the war, re-using the maps the publisher had originally commissioned for the main series, OCLC 40341912 – reprinted several times in the 1990s in varying executions, including a 1999 boxed softcover edition, ISBN 0737031573), and Voices of the Civil War (1996-1998, 18 illustrated volumes, reproductions of letters from Civil War participants, written at the time of the key battles around which the series was organized). Aside from these, Time-Llife reissued in the time-span 1999-2000 an illustrated commemorative version of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative (14 volumes – the original three-volume work was, save for a few maps, not illustrated). Additionally, a stand-alone title, An Illustrated History of the Civil War (ISBN 073703162X), was released in 2000 as a, summarizing, general history of the war, and, like Voices and A Narrative, again making use of the considerable pictorial archive the publisher had accumulated for the main series, including their own commissioned maps.

    Nor has the Illustrated History remained the only stand-alone Civil War title by Time-Life; despite the fact that the publisher had largely withdrawn from book publication in 2003, subsequent iterations of the company did release additional Civil War book titles – aside from re-issuing the Illustrated History title in 2011 (ISBN 9781603201711) – , mostly on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the war, being in essence largely rehashings of the considerable editorial effort they had undertaken for the main series thirty years earlier. Titles thus released included,

  • 1863, Turning Point of the Civil War: Chancellorsville/Gettysburg/Vicksburg/Chickamauga/Chattanooga (1998, ISBN 0737000287 and reproducing McPherson's aforementioned foreword)
  • Gettysburg (2013, ISBN 9781618930538)
  • The Civil War in 500 Photographs (2015, ISBN 9781618931481)
  • The Civil War; Generals in the Field (2015, 96-page single magazine theme issue)
  • On the Front Lines: From Fort Sumter to Appomattox (2016, ISBN 9781683304173)
  • Apart from the book titles, Time-Life has under its own imprint released in 1991 the PBS multi-award winning 1989-1990 documentary series The Civil War by documentary maker Ken Burns (who in turn was inspired by Shelby Foote's work) as a 9-tape VHS box set, while also re-releasing the series as a 5-disc DVD collection in 2009 on DVD (OCLC 608347591), again re-issuing the collection in 2015 with an additional disc (OCLC 919639054). Voices of the Civil War was also released as a taped audio book series by Time-Life (for which the publisher had commissioned Hachette Audio), shortly after the release of the book versions. In 1991 the company also released The Civil War Music: Collector's Edition thee-piece box set, a rendition of contemporary tunes played at the times, in both music cassette and CD formats. The accompanying 24-page booklet featured information lifted from the main series, predominantly from the volume Tenting Tonight.

    An ancient, precursory publication on the topic had been a 1961 six-part The Civil War article series for Life Magazine, commemorating the centennial anniversary, from which the book Great Battles of the Civil War (OCLC 1044896) was derived in the same year.


    The Civil War series Wikipedia

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