Castel, Albert 1928-
CASTEL, Albert 1928-
PERSONAL: Born November 11, 1928, in Wichita, KS; son of Albert Edward and Dorothy (Williamson) Castel; married George Ann Bennett, 1959; children: Ann Bennett, Charles. Education: Municipal University of Wichita (now Wichita State University), B.A., 1950, M.A., 1951; University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1955. Religion: Anglican. Hobbies and other interests: Classical music, drawing.
ADDRESSES: Home—166 Westwood Drive, Hillsdale, MI 49242.
CAREER: Historian and writer. University of California, Los Angeles, instructor in history, 1957-58; Waynesburg College, Waynesburg, PA, assistant professor of history, 1958-60; Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, assistant professor, 1960-63, associate professor, 1963-66, professor of history, 1967-91. Culver Military Academy, Culver, IN, Eppley Chair in History, 1962-63. Military service: U.S. Army, 1955-57.
MEMBER: Kansas State Historical Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Author, Civil War Times Illustrated, 1979; Lincoln Prize, Lincoln and Soldiers Institute, 1993, for Decision in the West; Peterson Award, Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1989; Harwell Award, Atlanta Civil War Round Table, 1993; Truman Award, Civil War Round Table of Kansas City, 1994.
A Frontier State at War: Kansas, 1861-1865, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1958.
William Clarke Quantrill: His Life and Times, Fell (New York, NY), 1962, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1999.
Sterling Price and Civil War in the West, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1968.
(Co-author) The Yeas and Nays: Key Congressional Votes, 1774-1945, New Issues Press (Kalamazoo, MI), 1975.
The Presidency of Andrew Johnson, Regents Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1979.
(Author of notes) O. S. Barton, Three Years with Quantrill: A True Story Told by His Scout, John McCorkle, commentary by Herman Hattaway, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1992.
Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864, maps by Laura Kriegstrom Poracsky, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1992.
(Author of foreword) Hillsdale Honor: The Civil War Experience, Hillsdale College Press (Hillsdale, MI), 1994.
Winning and Losing in the Civil War: Essays and Stories, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1996.
The Campaign for Atlanta, Eastern National Park and Monument Association (Conshohocken, PA), 1996.
Civil War Kansas: Reaping the Whirlwind, originally published as A Frontier State at War, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1958, with new preface and textual corrections, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1997.
(With Thomas Goodrich) Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 1998.
(Author of foreword and endnotes) Alfred H. Burne, Lee, Grant, and Sherman: A Study in Leadership in the 1864-65 Campaign, introduction by Douglas Southall Freeman, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2000.
(Compiler) Tom Taylor's Civil War, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2000.
Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both in the Civil War, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 2001.
Also contributor of over 100 articles to professional journals, and more than 250 book reviews.
SIDELIGHTS: Albert Castel has blended a long career as history professor at Western Michigan University with an avid scholarly interest in Civil War topics to write a score of books on the subject. His Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864, which thoroughly deals with the personalities and actions of that campaign, is a "gripping story, well told," according to Elbert B. Smith writing in Historian. Smith also felt that Castel's "exhaustive research, vivid narrative, and controversial interpretations make this book a must for military historians and Civil War buffs."
Winning and Losing in the Civil War also "deserves a place on the sagging bookshelves of both Civil War scholars and buffs," as William B. Feis commented in Civil War History. A compilation of some of Castel's article-length work, this book deals in large part with a reconsideration of controversial events, including a discussion of how the North came close to losing the war, as well as "an interesting look at that unsung hero in American military history, the Army mule," according to Feis. "This volume is vintage Castel," concluded Feis. "His refreshing and provocative candor packaged within his usual lively prose is guaranteed to entertain and inspire." Reviewing the same title in History, Kyle S. Sinisi noted that Castel is the author of "acclaimed books on the era of the Civil War," but further observed that "his most important contributions to the historiography may well be his numerous articles in scholarly journals and popular magazines." Fifteen such pieces are gathered in Winning and Losing in the Civil War, tackling a wide variety of "contentious and fascinating issues," according to Sinisi.
In Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla, Castel returned to a topic he had broached with his much earlier book on William Quantrill: the role of the guerrilla in the Civil War. Daniel E. Sutherland, reviewing the title in Civil War History, noted that Castel's book is "the first scholarly study of Bloody Bill Anderson, the most savage and sadistic of all Civil War guerrillas." Sutherland further commented that there is "gore galore in this authoritative yet pulse quickening narrative." Bloody Bill was a Confederate guerrilla who saw action mostly in Missouri during the war, and who was motivated largely by revenge for the death of some of his relatives in Federal prisons. Library Journal's Grant A. Fredericksen noted that Castel and his co-author, Thomas Goodrich, used newly uncovered material as they relate the career of Bloody Bill in "dramatic, compelling style."
Castel focused on another individual in his Tom Taylor's Civil War, constructed largely of excerpts from the letters and journals of one young man who left his Ohio law practice and his family to fight for the Union cause. Additionally, Castel provides a continuous narrative of the events about which Taylor wrote. Booklist's Jay Freeman felt that the result was "an absorbing and emotionally wrenching glimpse at the toll taken on an intelligent, sensitive man by the strains of combat and separation from his family." Similarly, Paul E. Teed, writing in Michigan Historical Review, noted that Tom Taylor's Civil War is "an extremely well-written and fascinating book that will be quite valuable to military historians and highly accessible to general readers." And Kevin M. Levin, reviewing the title in Civil War History, called it a "unique blend of first-person narrative, biography, and military history."
Articles of War: Winners, Losers, and Some Who Were Both during the Civil War again gathers essays from "one of the most prolific writers among Civil War scholars," as Freeman wrote in a Booklist review. Culled from over fifty years of writing on the topic, these essays profile U. S. Grant, William Sherman, and Sam Houston, among many others. "To all of his subjects, Castel brings a lucid prose and razor-sharp analytical skills," observed Freeman. And Theresa McDevitt noted two praiseworthy attributes in a Library Journal review, mentioning that the articles and essays were "based on the solid historical research of Castel," and that they were also "readable."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December, 1993, pp. 1688-1689.
Booklist, November 1, 2000, Jay Freeman, review of Tom Taylor's Civil War, p. 514; July, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of Articles of War, p. 1973.
Civil War History, September, 1993, pp. 257-260; March, 1997, William B. Feis, review of Winning and Losing in the Civil War, pp. 76-77; June, 1999, Daniel E. Sutherland, review of Bloody Bill Anderson, p. 165; December, 2001, Kevin M. Levin, review of Tom Taylor's Civil War, pp. 359-360.
Historian, summer, 1993, Elbert E. Smith, review of Decision in the West, p. 78.
History, spring, 1997, Kyle S. Sinisi, review of Winning and Losing in the Civil War, p. 112.
Journal of American Culture, spring, 1994, p. 102.
Journal of American History, December, 1993, pp. 1102-1103.
Journal of Military History, January, 1995, pp. 158-159; July, 2001, John F. Marszalek, review of Tom Taylor's Civil War, pp. 799-800.
Journal of Southern History, May, 1994, pp. 407-408; August, 1997, pp. 675-676.
Journal of the West, April, 1993, p. 97.
Library Journal, November 1, 1992, p. 100; January, 1999, Grant A. Fredericksen, review of Bloody Bill Anderson, p. 121; August, 2001, Theresa McDevitt, review of Articles of War, p. 130.
Michigan Historical Review, fall, 2001, Paul E. Teed, review of Tom Taylor's Civil War, pp. 178-179.
New York Times Book Review, March 14, 1993, Gary W. Gallagher, review of Decision in the West, p. 10.
Sewanee Review, summer, 1995, Clayton Lewis, review of Decision in the West, pp. 414-425.