Writing brought the details of people, events to life. Narration went well and gave emotion this story.
The detailed account of the historical context. The much deeper understanding I acquired of the Civil War and its role in history, of Lincoln, of American culture and society.
Much too long for that! But I did not want to stop listening.
The first two volumes are long but well worth it. I'm waiting for Volume 3
I would and have. I originally bought the print version of this book for a Civil War class in college, but I held on to that book, replaced it when it was damaged, and now own the audiobook as well. It's a great read and I feel like I find something new each time.
The Oxford History of the United States is a great series in general. Getting away from that, I might compare it to "John Adams" by David McCollough, since it uses a story-telling structure to discuss complex topics in detail without being boring.
It's a bit more than a scene, but I think McPherson do a great job of covering the Mexican-American War, which is important because it introduces a lot of people and themes that become important in the Civil War.
It doesn't come until Part 2 (more on that below), but there's a short mention of two enemy armies camped on opposite sides of the river, singing and laughing with each other, knowing quite well what would happen at sunrise. Like the Christmas Truces of WWI, these really show the humanity of both sides' soldiers.
I have one minor qualm with this book, both related to the audiobook formatting rather than the writing or content. First, some of the chapter breaks are oddly placed. In general, each chapter in the print book is broken into two or three sections, and most of the audiobook chapters follow this pattern. However, there are some chapters that begin in the middle of a thought, e.g., "But the bluejackets soon got some rams of their own." This means that chapter breaks are not necessarily good stopping points. If you're listening in short shifts, such as during your commute, you may need to skip back a minute or two for context.
Also -- and this is a note for prospective buyers rather than a criticism -- although the book itself is a single volume, the audiobook is split in two. This volume covers up to Chapter 13 of the print version, which is roughly Fredricksburg (1862). Volume 2 goes from there to the war's end. Given the book's size, I think that's reasonable. However, I think it's important to note that the single-volume print version and the two-volume audio version are the same.
Maybe I just need to get more accustomed to books this long. Or maybe it's just that the details of what Adam Goodheart called "which cavalry went charging over what hill", became so tedious that my brain went numb. This book is dense, dense, dense.
But I think that abridging this book would be a sin, because the parts that did interest me (and there were many) were indispensably informative. For people with more interest in the military stuff, there's tons of that in there. For folks like me, who take more interest in the social and political happenings behind the scenes, there's enough to fill a separate book, but still not nearly a large enough percentage of the overall material for my tastes.
The two parts of this book were my third and forth programs that I've heard Jonathan Davis narrate, and I'm pretty sick of his cadence by now. Especially annoying are his Grand Canyon sized pauses in the middle of sentences. Sometimes he'll throw three or four of them into a sentence with only one comma, like he's getting paid by the hour. The double speed feature helped me get to the finish line.
Overall, I'm glad I slogged through it, but it was my least favorite oxford history so far, Empire Of Liberty being my favorite.
I have a hard time reading/listening to true fiction books. I think this is because my main reason for reading is to learn and not necessarily just for enjoyment, although I do read many historical fiction books. Favorites history/biography books and science/tech info books.
Great book. Lots of good interesting facts and a great overall history of the war from an unbiased perspective. Should engage anyone looking for a good history of the civil war.
I am a non-fiction kind of guy - focus is on military history and politics. Prefer apolitical tomes that hone in on facts not ideology.
I would listen to this again because it is enlightening and entertaining. As a history buff I enjoy minute facts, and this has so very many of those.
It is written along the lines of works of other historians, such as Ambrose and Goodwin.
He kept me listening, and is a precise narrator.
McPherson takes us to a place few histories go - to the grit and venom that arose between 1840 and 1860. The tensions and bifurcation between North and South are explained in a way that I can see the same mind-set at work in 21st Century politics.
This book explores all the vectors that led to, carried us through, and brought us out of a conflict of minds, politics, and spirit.
Undoubtedly the definitive work on the civil war. The reader does a good job holding the listeners attention. I have read this volume once and I do not tire of listening to it again.
Not in this series
Everyone else seems to believe that this is the book to read on the American Civil War. However, I found it difficult to wade through. Perhaps, if I wanted to study the war, intently....