New National Geographic Book: A guide to sites of Civil War
The non profit Blue and Gray Education Society has collaborated once again with the world famous National Geographic Book division to produce a comprehensive, affordable and superior guide entitled The Civil War: A Travelers Guide. This book was conceptualized, outlined and edited by BGES Executive Director, Len Riedel has opened to excellent reviews and has advanced to the head of its genre.
National Geographic is a brand that has stood the test of time and the partnership between the Society and Blue and Gray Education has developed and grown strong over the past 14 years and the collaboration on a 2005 book of integrated tours conducted by former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, Ed Bearss for the BGES and titled Fields of Honor, Pivotal Battles of the Civil War. Sales of more than 60,000 volumes made the second book easier and Receding Tide, Vicksburg and Gettysburg, The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War was released in 2010. This book was Bearss most analytic publication and in collaboration with retired Brigadier General Parker Hills to book was strongly commended by military professionals and in Army publications.
BGES moved to popular history with the publication of the extremely personal and readable 2012 publication Shiloh 1862 by the well known historian and novelist Winston Groom (Forrest Gump). BGES’ key role in the book was recognized by the dedication of the book to Executive Director, Len Riedel. Groom noted that Riedel had inspired him to write the book after some heavy weight lobbying. That book is ranked just above (38) The Civil War, A Travelers Guide (39) on the Amazon l
ist of best selling Civil War history books. A fifth book is scheduled for publication in February 2018 The American Revolution, A Travelers Guide.
BGES Executive Director, Len Riedel attributes the success of the partnership to the generosity and engagement of BGES members and our proven track record of delivering quality products on time in all their projects including the NG books. We trust each other and share a clear understanding of the completed product. National Geographic has experienced that as well and that builds a high level of trust and confidence between the organizations. “It matters when you say something and the other person trusts your word and reciprocates” says Riedel. We were planning initially to bring out the Rev War book in 2017 but we wanted to rework some items we were not comfortable with—NG wanted the book but deferred to our judgment—it is a tribute to the quality of the past work that we can say “Do it right first, rather than spend time trying to put a bandage on a rush job.” Both organizations expect to be rewarded by the discipline of waiting.
The Civil War, A Travelers Guide was written to be the best in class. Conceptualized with unique and meaningful features, BGES is proud of the depth of knowledge and t
he data points the book reveals. “I was told that one wife picked up the book and hasn’t put it down yet” says Riedel. “Anyone at any level of knowledge can read three of four pages and learn something they didn’t know before.
I appreciated that we were able to recommend about 180 different books and to create 10 or more walking tours in historic towns in the north and south. Essays were not politically correct and were direct in their historical analysis. Lists of “Critical Paths” help foster discussion among Civil War buffs and provided a trail for novices to follow to begin their studies. For those traveling overseas there are sites to visit in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Canada, Australia, France and England—there is even a walking tour of Piccadilly in London. The book is just plain handy.
The National Geographic estimates they will sell about 100,000 copies by the spring of 2019. BGES itself has sold over 700 copies of the trade edition and is releasing a limited edition print run of 500 leather bound books in June. They are also preparing for the second edition by soliciting corrections and recommended additions on their web site www.blueandgrayeducation.org. The book is distributed by Simon and Schuster and is available on line and wherever fine books are sold. BGES is also selling both versions of its book on the website along with the other books mentioned in this article. Autographed editions of most books are available or can be acquired from the BGES.