When Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson speaks, a lot of people listen.
That's because his award-winning books are not only scholarly in essence-- giving them a widely recognized authority -- but also singularly determined to help the general public grapple with the meaning and the legacy of America's deadliest yet most myth-enshrouded military conflict.
So don't wait until the deadline of Friday, Sept. 13, to make your reservations for his free Sept. 17 lecture and book signing at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk.
Though his newest book, "War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies 1861-1865" zeroes in on a subject of unusual interest to Navy-minded Hampton Roads -- where the first clash between ironclad warships in 1862 is only one of many historic milestones -- chances are he will also have something revealing to say about the blue-water struggles of the Civil War.
Indeed, though many other historians have treated the naval war as a sideshow to a much larger and greater struggle between land forces, McPherson's study recasts the struggle of the Union and Confederate navies as crucial and perhaps even indispensable to the war's outcome.
The former Princeton University professor made his mark nearly 25 years ago with the 1989 publication of "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era," which is still regarded as one of the best and most enlightening one-volume general histories of the conflict.
In addition to writing many other well-regarded books on the war, he's also stepped out from behind his desk and lectern frequently throughout his career, speaking forcefully for the preservation of Civil War battlefields.
As president of Protect Historic America in the early 1990s, McPherson lobbied vigorously against the planned construction of a Disney theme park near the historic Northern Virginia battlefield at Manassas. He also became an influential spokesman on the board of the Civil War Trust and served on the Civil War Site Advisory Commision
McPherson's lecture and book signing will take place 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, and, though the event is free, seating is limited. Call 757-322-3109 by Friday, Sept. 13 to make a reservation.
Here's a link to related post by Leah Price, our book page writer.
-- Mark St. John EricksonCopyright © 2015, CT Now