Monday, October 24, 2011

A Civil War Magazine That Rocks

The first edition of The Civil War Monitor made quite a splash in the blogosphere a few weeks ago.  Persuaded by the likes of fellow bloggers, many of whom write for one of the magazine's dedicated blogs, I decided to subscribe to The Civil War Monitor.  Sure, I could have glanced at the first edition on-line and written my review, but there is something about holding an actual copy and turning pages, the old-fashioned way.  My first issue arrived in the mail last week while I was away on business, and I finally had a chance to look through it.  Let's just say that I was not disappointed.  This magazine rocks.

The Civil War Monitor is a combination of smart, sophisticated, and hip.  Printed on high-quality paper, the magazine feels as substantial as its content.  The typeface and graphic design bring the look of the Civil War into the 21st century.  (Perhaps this was also the motivating factor behind the recent remake of Civil War Times.)  Consider the spread on "Voices," which splashes across the page a plethora of captivating and sometimes disturbing quotes on the start of the war.  Or check out "By the Numbers," a series of simple pictographs depicting the resource differences between North and South.  These types of features resemble a news magazine layout, making the Civil War an almost contemporary experience.   The "Travels" section on Gettysburg goes beyond the sites to offer suggestions on lodging and food which could rival Conde Nast Traveler.  The foodie in me liked that The Civil War Monitor strayed from the usual chain restaurants and recommended a winery, a Thai restaurant, and a coffee house.  Think of it as Yuppie meets the Civil War!  And there appear to be no ads for those kitchy Lost Cause items, although I don't know if this was a conscious decision on the part of the publisher.
Premier edition of The Civil War Monitor (courtesy of the magazine's website)

The Civil War Monitor, my friends, is not just about the "look."  Most importantly, the magazine offers in-depth, well-written articles on various aspects of the Civil War, including military history, memory, and politics.  These articles even contain end notes, lending the magazine the air of a scholarly journal.  One particularly insightful article by PhD student Brian Matthew Jordan focuses on Union ex-POWs and remembrance.  I could spend hours alone reading and thinking about the pieces in this premier issue.

Book reviews round out The Civil War Monitor.  Rather than examining individual books, the three reviews in this edition discuss "Essential Reading on the Coming of the Civil War," "Recent Battle Books," and "The Books That Built Me."  The critics do not mince words.  Robert Krick, for instance, dismisses books about Glendale and Fair Oaks as affording "not even a minuscule scrap of new information."  It is welcome to see such honest, insightful reviews.

A companion website compliments the print edition of The Civil War Monitor and provides access to photo essays, two main blogs, and other features.  The magazine also offers a very active Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Such a solid on-line presence indicates the publisher's decision to harness the power of both old and new media to reach a broad audience of Civil War enthusiasts. 

I strongly recommend that readers of this blog subscribe to The Civil War Monitor.  The magazine will satisfy your inner Civil War craving.  And your significant other just might ask you, "Since when did the Civil War become so cool?"


Richard said...

I agree. I have not read every article yet, but what I've seen has been outstanding, living up to the hype on those blogs. The article by Stephen Berry about the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination on Henry Rathbone was terrific and a story I had not seen before.

I really like the website and the Front Line blog as well.

Ron Baumgarten said...

It certainly is good to welcome a new high-quality Civil War magazine to the club. I didn't yet read the Rathbone article, but will need to check that one out too. I can't wait to see future editions.