Expected to find a book about the Civil War from a military perspective, was surprised and delighted to listen to a wonderfully detailed and well researched political & social fabric that lead up to and carried through the war. Most Excellent !
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.
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 enjoyed all the different perspectives in this book. Listening to Northern and Southern soldiers both and their observations (sometimes on the same battles).
Not sure if I had a favorite but U.S. Grant was prolific in his writings.
I enjoyed most of the readers and their inflections, there was one reader I didn't really enjoy the voice or cadence of, but overall it was good.
Nothing outstanding to sway me either way in particular. I was moved by the scenes of the surrender at Appomattox though.
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.
I read the book and was not disappointed in the audio as I've listened to it, or at least large sections of it, over and over. If you want a solid overview of a mind-boggling period of American history this is it.
Writing brought the details of people, events to life. Narration went well and gave emotion this story.
This history has it all - the battles, the personalities, the events, and the economic, political, and social context of the war. Together with part 2 it's 40 hours long, but it's so readable and well-written that it just flies past - and leaves you far more edified than when you began.
The most memorable moment was the description of the fight for the Bloody Angle at Spotsylvania Courthouse. You could almost see the era of limited warfare ending and the era of total war beginning at that one spot.