First book led to a love of history and reading

Ernest Dollar is a local historian and director of the City of Raleigh Museum and Dr. M.T. Pope House.

Recommended read: This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust. This book is an exploration of national grief. She reveals the deep and wide-spread grief that washed over America in the wake of the Civil War. Beyond the battlefield glory, “The Republic of Suffering” reveals the the intimate cost of war and shares how survivors dealt with the war’s grizzly legacy. (Do not listen to the audio book while driving, or you might drive your car off a cliff.)

Currently reading:The Good Soldiers” by David Finkel. Books like this go a long way to help the modern public understand what happened to American soldiers in Iraq. Finkel’s writing is hauntingly beautiful and paints a vivid portrait of men at war.

What favorite book from childhood have you kept? I still have the first book I ever read, “The Odyssey for Boys and Girls.” 1922. How I love that little tattered book. It was my “gateway drug” to history. It led me to my first love, that of the ancient Greeks.

What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of?Chapel Hill and Elisha Mitchell, the Botanist” by Rogers McVaugh, Michael R. McVaugh and Mary Ayers. An incredible resource for local historians. Published by the N.C. Botanical Garden Foundation, it is the field diary of Elisha Mitchell, professor at UNC in the 1820s and 1830s, who wandered through the forests around town recording the landscape and the plants he found.

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“This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War”

Drew Gilpin

Knopf, 346 pages