View Full Version : Time Life Book, Civil War Series

02-09-2009, 10:46 AM
I went up to the attic last Fall and dug out all 28 volumes of my set of the original Time Life Civil War series. I arrainged then into the proper order, then started reading. I have not read them since they originally arrived in my mail box more than 20 years ago.

I know a bit more about the war than I did then and as I read (I'm on volume 17 now, the Gettysburg volume) I began to find some quirks in the writing and editing that I think are amusing.

The author likes to insert quaint words that nobody uses today (or in 1983). Some are so obsecure that I need to refer to my old 1949 Websters Unabridged to define them.

Second, there are dozens of photos that are printed backwards.

Third, he often repeats himself in different volumes, forgivable perhaps in that the story lines often overlap.

It is interesting how many of the passages in the series read the same as the PBS Ken Burns Series did. I should see if the same author worked on both productions I guess.

There are also typos. I find miss spelled words. I find units on the battle maps with the wrong names, or not matching the text. I guess they did need to rush these out, since one was delivered every month.

The bindings are cheap. These books were put away in nearly perfect condition and now as I'm reading them several volumes are coming apart at the bindings. Two are almost split open the whole length of the binding. Given another twenty years they may be no more than a pile of pages contained between the covers!

I wondered what the learned scholars on this forum think of that series?


02-09-2009, 12:37 PM
Yes they are cheaply made. I lent one out to a fellow who values books as much as I do and it came back with a loose binding despite his care. If yo ever try to sell them to a book dealer you'll see who little they are worth other than the information with-in.

I thought that Appomattox would be the last one, then came the Assasination, then the Nation Reunited.

02-09-2009, 12:52 PM
It's interesting though that the CW series holds its value as a complete set over the other series, like Knights of the Air or The Old West. The Third Reich series stays higher too. I saw a full set of Knights at a bookstore for $25, but on eBay the CW set often goes for over a $100.


Pete K
02-09-2009, 01:42 PM
To get students into the WBTS they work well. Basic info from books in this digital age is a tough sell to middleschoolers, but these books are colorful enough and the info is short enough to get a student started, now to adults who have a bit of knowledge on the topic all of the shortcomings you mention are true and then some. The Gettysburg edition is a good starting point where many of the term papers in my classroom are born. There are better sources, but I do use the Time-Life with certain learners.

02-09-2009, 01:55 PM
I saw a full set of Knights at a bookstore for $25, but on eBay the CW set often goes for over a $100.

Right you are but if you are trying to sell any of these sets to a dealer, you won't get much. The dealer may get those prices or you will if you sell them directly. I'm hanging on to my Time/Life sets just for the info and pictures. It's a quick reference.