Civil War Books

Jim and Sue Gindlesperger have had a long fascination with the Civil War, so it wasn't unnatural for Jim to be exploring the Civil War section of a local cemetery in the early 1990s while his daughter obtained information from nearby grave stones for a college project. When he discovered the grave of an escapee from Libby Prison he began a project of his own, hoping to learn more of the escapee, who apparently had been a local citizen.  Several trips to the National Archives uncovered some limited information about the escape, but there were still some holes in the story.  He contacted the National Park Service and asked if they could flesh out what he had uncovered.  The surprising answer was that they had even less information, and they asked if they could use the information that Jim had discovered.  They also suggested that he publish what he had found,resulting in his first book, Escape From Libby Prison.  

That book received the George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, was featured in a Discovery Channel documentary, and was optioned by Warner Brothers to be made into a feature movie.  The screenplay was written and Tom Hanks and Dylan Sellers were selected as co-producers before Warner Brothers decided to drop the film from their production schedule.    


Escape From Libby Prison was followed by two more books, Seed Corn of the Confederacy and Fire on the Water, with the latter gaining Jim his second George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence.  


In the meantime, Jim and Sue had been visiting battlefields all over the East over a span of more than 25 years, and they had collected hundreds of photos and stories.  They decided to do a joint venture, writing So You Think You Know Gettysburg?, a series of stories of the men and monuments at Gettysburg.  Their first book together resulted in a Bronze Medal award in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year competition in New Orleans in 2010.  The book's success led them to write two more books in the So You Think You Know . . .  series:  So You Think You Know Antietam?, and a second volume of So You Think You Know Gettysburg? that was written in response to readers' requests. While neither won any awards, the Antietam book was a finalist at the 2012 Book of the Year awards, the same competition that awarded the couple's first Gettysburg book the Bronze Award two years earlier. 


With six books under their belts, both Jim and Sue are busy on more projects.  Sue is researching and writing a book on the field hospitals that sprouted around Gettysburg after the 1863 battle.  Her research is nearing completion and she hopes to begin the actual manuscript soon.  


Meanwhile, Jim stepped outside the Civil War genre for his next project, titled Arlington:  A Color Guide to America's Most Famous Cemetery.  The book was released March 7, 2017 and features a history of the cemetery, a discussion of how the unknown soldiers were selected and by whom, and a collection of the heroic accounts of some 250 men and women interred there.  It is already being carried by such prestigious institutions as the cemetery itself, the National Building Museum, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Museum Shops, and the Manassas Museum Store,  Having completed that rewarding project, he has resumed his research into the trial of Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville prison and the only person hanged for war crimes in the Civil War.  


Jim and Sue are both members of the Friends of Gettysburg Foundation, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Friends of Flight 93, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Trust, and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.  Jim is a Friend of the Field at both Gettysburg and New Market, and he has served as a consultant on a joint project initiated by National Geographic, NASA, Google Earth, and Carnegie Mellon University to map and digitally photograph Civil War sites using high resolution robotic cameras with full panoramic capability.  In addition to the organizations listed above, Sue is co-founder of PennWriters, a professional organization of published and aspiring writers. 


Both have ancestors who fought in the Civil War.  Sue had ancestors who fought for the South, while Jim had ancestors on both sides, including one who was killed at the Battle of Gaines' Mill.  They live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and they regularly do booksignings and lectures throughout the eastern United States.  If you would like them to speak to your group or make an appearance at your event, please contact them to schedule.





About James and Suzanne Gindlesperger