Books That Inspire 2012

Banners at Shenandoah
Bruce Catton

I first read Banners at Shenandoah by Bruce Catton in the early 1960s during the American Civil War Centennial when I was 9 or 10 years old. I reread the book so many times it fell apart. This historical fiction novel of a young boy who runs away from home to join the Union cavalry to fight for the freedom of others is also a story of coming-of-age in a time of war. This fictional account reminded me of my great-grandfather Ballentine Ransom Lovit, who ran away from his home at Wolf Creek, Kentucky, to join the Union cavalry and fight in the Civil War. This book is the one that always stands out as the book that inspired me to read more works of both fiction and history.

In December 2009, when my son John Ransom was 11, I found a pristine copy of this book and purchased it for him. I attached this note in the front cover of the book: "I read this book when I was your age. Your great-great-grandfather Ballentine Ransom Lovit served in the 7th Kentucky Cavalry, United States Volunteers, during the Civil War."

John Lovett
Curator, Western History Collections
University Libraries