You can never go wrong with the great Shelby Foote, so check out his trilogy:
-The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume One: Fort Sumter to Perryville (BOOK | KINDLE)
-The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume Two: Fredericksburg to Meridian (BOOK | KINDLE)
-The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume Three: Red River to Appomattox (BOOK | KINDLE)
Other suggestions of general histories of the Civil War:
-Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James McPherson (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo (BOOK | KINDLE)
-The Civil War (single volume) by Bruce Catton (BOOK)
Wow, I don’t really know how many books I have that focus on the Civil War or that era. If I were forced to make a guess, I’d say that I probably have about 90 or 100 books on the Civil War. Most of them focus on specific aspects of the Civil War or the crises that led to the war or the important individuals and events. Few of the books try to tell the complete history of the war and that’s good because it really can’t be done in one volume. So, if you were to dig through my Civil War library, you’d find a lot of biographies of people like William Tecumseh Sherman and Jefferson Davis, as well as books like William J. Cooper’s recent released We Have the War Upon Is: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 (BOOK•KINDLE) which takes a detailed look at the country from Lincoln’s election to the firing on Fort Sumter as President Buchanan’s lame duck administration does nothing while states begin to secede from the Union.
I don’t think they get redundant at all. Sure, you’ll cover some common ground, but each writer tells the stories in a different way, spotlight different people or events, and bring the history to us in their own voice. I actually prefer to read several books on the same subject because it really drives home the history, breaks through any potential biases or inconsistencies of individual authors, and helps complete the story.
I never think of common history that I read from different authors as redundancies. It’s more like a validation of the information. I truly believe that you can always get more out of a story, whether it’s through research that reveals new information, or the perspective of the writer, or just the way that something is written. Just as an example, if an editor asked me to write a different story every day for a week but that I had to detail Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in the story as the centerpiece each day, I could easily do it by shifting the narrative or approaching the details a little differently or with a totally different voice. That’s how I look at multiple books about a common subject.