Monday, February 15, 2010

Siddali (ed.): "MISSOURI'S WAR: The Civil War in Documents"

[Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents edited by Silvana R. Siddali (Ohio University Press, 2009). Softcover, maps, illustrations, notes, select bibliography, index. 296 pages. ISBN:978-0-8214-1732-4 $18.65]

Each volume compiled and edited by a different scholar, Ohio University Press's The Civil War in the Great Interior series is an interesting exercise in source material selection on a state level. The third and newest entry is Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents, edited by St. Louis University history professor Silvana R. Siddali.

In researching her book, Siddali diligently gathered public and private material to and/or from just about every conceivable Missouri political, military, and ethnic constituency, much of it published for the first time. An impressively thorough job was made of it. The documents range from military and government reports and communications to newspaper correspondence, letters, diaries, memoirs, poems, and songs. Making the volume of material more manageable, Siddali divided the book into eight sections covering slavery in the state, the political divisions, the reaction to the outbreak of war, the battles fought within the state, the civilian experience, the guerrilla war and the imprisonment of civilians, emancipation, and reconciliation. Emphases are subjective, but no important segment of the war in Missouri is entirely neglected.

Preceding its reproduction with an introduction varying in length from a sentence or two to a sizable paragraph, Siddali provides each document with background and context. The physical location of the original document is also noted at the bottom. Additionally, a brief annotated narrative (four to five pages in length) introduces each of the eight major sections mentioned above. The book is well conceived and organized. A timeline, a set of discussion questions, a selected bibliography, and an index round out the volume.

Missouri's War is well suited for classroom and reference use, and deserves placement in personal and institutional libraries. Students of the middle western states's roles in the Civil War should look forward to the publication of future volumes in the series*. Recommended.

* - Kansas, Michigan, and Wisconsin volumes are in the works (edited by Pearl Ponce, John Quist, and Chandra Manning, respectively). Kansas is currently scheduled for a Fall/Winter '10 release.

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