Book Biz: Spotlight on state’s role in Civil War

Vicksburg is, of course, a likely place to find interest in the War Between the States. Thousands of visitors flock annually to the National Military Park there, and with officials preparing for the 150th anniversary of the war, interest is growing. That’s why Laura Weeks, owner of Lorelei Books in downtown Vicksburg, is so keen on the latest book of the University Press of Mississippi’s series about the war.

Author and Mississippi State University professor Michael B. Ballard will be at Lorelei Books on March 18 to sign his book, “The Civil War in Mississippi, Major Campaigns and Battles.” “It’s coming out just in time for the Civil War sesquicentennial,” Weeks said. “It focuses on Mississippi’s role and is geared more to the Civil War buff audience. It’s not Civil War for dummies; it’s for those who already know a little of the history. He attracts the audience seeking that icing on the cake of what they know.”

That said, Weeks thinks the book, complete with maps and detailed information, will make very nice Father’s Day and college graduation gifts.

The book traces the war from the first Union attack on Vicksburg through Benjamin Grierson’s last raids through Mississippi, focusing on the campaigns, fighting and causes and effects of armed conflict in Central and North Mississippi where major campaigns were waged and fighting occurred.

Ballard also wrote “Civil War Mississippi: A Guide.” A resident of Ackerman, he is a professor, university archivist and coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at MSU in addition to serving as associate editor of the Grant Papers Libraries from the Ulysses S. Grant Association.

Going into her fifth year with Lorelei Books, Weeks previously had Civil War author Timothy B. Smith for a book signing. The University of Tennessee history professor wrote “Mississippi in the Civil War, the Home Front,” which addressed the war’s effects on ordinary citizens.

Weeks says it’s an exciting time to be an independent bookseller as changes come down the pike. With help from the American Booksellers Association, she and other business owners are creating websites to enable them to sell print and electronic books online.

“My site will have this capability in the next couple of months,” she said. “Now independent stores can participate in that, and the little stores are good at adapting to change. We’re nimble and we’re thriving.”

While the traditional print version is still her reading method of choice, she sees advantages in electronic versions for their portability and ability to let readers increase the font size.

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