Books of the Region: city, sea and Civil War

June 11, 1995|By James H. Bready | James H. Bready,Special to The Sun

Guidebooks for Baltimore have been on sale since well before the Civil War. And the prime need of today's tourist may be simply a parking space. Occasionally, though, visitors want a proper fill-in. Tell them, somebody, about the newest and best of vade mecums, "Walking in Baltimore: An Intimate Guide to the Old City," by Frank R. Shivers Jr. (Johns Hopkins University Press. 316 pages. $35.95; paperbound, $16.95).

Mr. Shivers lays out a dozen tours, stretching from Patterson Park to Federal Hill to Bolton Hill (where he lives - he wrote an earlier book about it). The tours aren't all-inclusive, and you wouldn't want to attempt all 12 in a day. But whoever reads this guide and follows these routes ("Walking in Baltimore" contains a Publisher's Note on safety), will know more about downtown than most natives do.

Literature is Mr. Shivers' forte; he embellishes his text with dozens of quotations. His baseball may seem hurried, and the index is inadequate, but the maps and old and new photos are first-rate. Here, par excellence, is the thinking person's introduction to Baltimore.

Now is the time to be outdoors walking (riding, paddling) and Bryan MacKay (of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Chesapeake Audubon Society) has written a complementary handbook to the wilds across the city line. "Hiking, Cycling and Canoeing in Maryland: A Family Guide" (Johns Hopkins University Press; 535 pages, maps, drawings by Sandra Glover; $35.95, paperbound $18.95) glories in the active life: 23 walks, 16 bike rides, 19 canoe trips.

From Nassawango to Middle Youghiogheny, from Sugarloaf to Soldiers Delight, here is more Maryland than you could embrace in a summer. Mr. MacKay knows the state, and he is particularly good on birds, animals, flowers, fish - and biopollution.

At sea, aloft, ashore - wherever the Navy has coffee tables, there is likely to be a copy of "The United States Naval Academy: A Pictorial Celebration of 150 Years," by Gale Gibson Kohlhagen and Ellen Boraz Heinbach (Abrams; 208 pages, 150 illustrations; $49.50). Here again, there are previous books on the topic; but "USNA," with its authors' skill (they did earlier honors by West Point), its dazzling photography and its command-deck cooperation, should market through 2000.

Navy pride, the Navy spirit, are true-blue all the way. Those four years of engineering-plus come across as hard (harder still, in the old-time oral-histoires quoted), yet worth it. Candor has its limits: the famous Jim Webb ` Ollie North boxing match is glossed over; Hyman Rickover, the target of anti-Semites in his Annapolis years, is now sanctified; for recent alcohol abuse, Wires-exam cheating and maltreatment of female mids, look elsewhere.

Susan Cooke Soderberg, making the first comprehensive census Civil War monuments in Maryland, found 57. The first (in New Cathedral Cemetery) was put up in 1866; one in Cumberland and one on South Mountain, in the 1990s. She also records 17 that stand elsewhere, viz., at Gettysburg.

Her book, "Lest We Forget: A Guide to Civil War Monuments in Maryland" (White Mane; illustrated, 195 pages; $29.95) is thorough: It lists all 220 names on the Mount Olivet Cemetery Confederate Tablet in Frederick. The War Correspondents Arch at Crampton's Gap is still the largest and most distinctive monument of all, and Ms. Soderberg records the 151 writers and artists, from both sides, named on it.

For any Marylander's Civil War shelf.

James H. Bready has written for The Evening Sun for many years as a reporter and book editor. He writes a monthly column on Maryland books.

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