The American Soldier in the Civil War and Its Audience

I believe that The American Soldier in the Civil War: A Pictorial History is meant for an extremely broad audience.  When one looks at the physical aspects of the book, it would be hard to state that the book was made strictly for an adult audience.  The book is rather large in size like many children’s books. Books such as novels, biographies, or scholarly works that are most often marketed towards adults are always much smaller in size so that they are easier to read and flip through the pages.  While yes, the size of The American Soldier in the Civil War: A Pictorial History makes it so that larger pictures can be put on the pages, the great width of the book is an aspect that would interest a child.  While it is an odd comparison to make to a book about the civil war, the width of the book reminds me of a book like Oh the Places You’ll Go by Doctor Seuss.  The books pages are wide enough to fit large illustrations on, while also making it seemingly easier for a child to read.

A physical aspect of the book that makes it seem as if it is for an older audience is the actual thickness of the book.  It is an extremely long book with a long body while also containing an extensive table of contents and timeline.  A book of this thickness would not usually be read by a child, but rather , it would be read by someone older in age.  Children’s attention spans are not as long as that of adults, obviously.  Most children’s books, such as Suess’s Oh the Places You’ll Go are very short and have very little wording.  Suess’s book is just over fifty pages long, which may even be on the longer side for some children’s books, as I remember some of mine being thirty, twenty, or even fifteen pages long.  Meanwhile, The American Soldier in the Civil War: A Pictorial History contains about four hundred pages worth of content.  Most children would not read a four hundred page book because it would seem too daunting, and they do not have the attention span to try and read a book so dense.  

However, as previously discussed in some of my other blog entries, this book is not so much to be read as it is to be perused.  The book is extremely long and fragmented into different parts between biographical descriptions of the people that were in the battles and illustrations of the battles, so in reality, nobody young or old is actually going to read this book.  So what can the other physical aspects of the book explain its audience?

I believe that the aspect of this book that can give us the definitive answer to this question is the ornate design of its outside.  The book is very colorful with the front and back covers being a darkish blue. This contrasts with the red leather binding to give it a very colorful appearance.  Furthermore, within the blue cover and on the red leather binding the title is written in gold, almost gilded lettering. All of these different physical aspects make it appear that this book is meant to sit on someone’s countertop in an almost decorative fashion.  It is meant to have a pleasing appearance as to add to the decor of a certain room in a house.  What I think this means when trying to figure out the intended audience of the book is that the book is meant to catch the eye of somebody in the room whether it be a child or an adult, as its physical appearance can appeal to both the young and old.  A young person would see the size of the book and the word “Pictorial” on the outside and open it up to enjoy the intricate drawings of what the civial war looked like. An adult would see the ornate design and the fact that it is the history of the Civil War and would be able to enjoy not only the illustrations in the book, but learn a great deal by reading the historical accounts of the battles and the biographical descriptions of the war’s most important men.  

In terms of textual appeals, it is hard to say if there is really any definitive reference for who the book is meant for.  I believe that this is done on purpose to make it so the book can appeal to as large an audience as possible. The only textual evidence I can think of that directs it towards a certain demographic is the title in the it references that it is both a history and a history in pictures.  I believe that this adds to the fact that both a child and an adult would like this book because it appeals to both of their tastes and states of maturity.