April 12, 1861 the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, igniting the Civil War that divided the United States for four years. To commemorate this momentous anniversary, listen to history come alive with a history audiobook. For more suggestions for classrooms and families, see our Listening Library list here.
THE CIVIL WAR
by Ken Burns, Ric Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward
read by Ken Burns
This magisterial work of history interweaves the author’s narrative with the voices of the men and women who lived through the cataclysmic trial of our nationhood: not just Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Robert E. Lee, but genteel Southern ladies and escaped slaves, cavalry officers and common foot soldiers who fought in Yankee blue and Rebel gray.
The Civil War also includes essays by our most distinguished historians of the era: Don E. Fehrenbacher, on the war’s origins; Barbara J. Fields, on the freeing of the slaves; Shelby Foote, on the war’s soldiers and commanders; James M. McPherson, on the political dimensions of the struggle; and C. Vann Woodward, assessing the America that emerged from the war’s ashes.
by Toni Morrison
read by the author
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding audio transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
THE KILLER ANGELS
by Michael Shaara
read by Stephen Hoye, with a forward read by Michael Shaara
*Winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction*
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Shattered futures, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty were also the casualties of war. Unique, sweeping, an unforgettable, THE KILLER ANGELS is a dramatic re-creation of the battleground for America’s destiny.
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR
by Kenneth C. Davis
read by the author and a full cast
Millions of Americans, bored by dull textbooks, are in the dark about the most significant event in our history. Now New York Times bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis comes to the rescue, deftly sorting out the players, the politics, and the key events—Emancipation and Reconstruction, Shiloh and Gettysburg, Generals Grant and Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe—and much more. Drawing on moving eyewitness accounts, Davis includes a wealth of “hidden history” about the roles played by women and African Americans before and during the war, along with lesser-known facts that will enthrall even learned Civil War buffs. Vivid, informative, and hugely entertaining, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War is the only audiobook you’ll ever need on “the war that never ended.”
THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
by John Keegan
read by Robin Sachs
For the past half century, John Keegan, the greatest military historian of our time, has been returning to the scenes of America’s most bloody and wrenching war to ponder its lingering conundrums: the continuation of fighting for four years between such vastly mismatched sides; the dogged persistence of ill-trained, ill-equipped, and often malnourished combatants; the effective absence of decisive battles among some two to three hundred known to us by name. Now Keegan examines these and other puzzles with a peerless understanding of warfare, uncovering dimensions of the conflict that have eluded earlier historiography. While offering original and perceptive insights into psychology, ideology, demographics, and economics, Keegan reveals the war’s hidden shape—a consequence of leadership, the evolution of strategic logic, and, above all, geography, the Rosetta Stone of his legendary decipherments of all great battles. The American topography, Keegan argues, presented a battle space of complexity and challenges virtually unmatched before or since. Out of a succession of mythic but chaotic engagements, he weaves an irresistible narrative illuminated with comparisons to the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and other conflicts.