James M. McPherson, professor emeritus of U.S. history at Princeton, is one of the foremost scholars of the Civil War. In this informative and meticulously researched masterpiece, he clarifies the differing ways of life and philosophy that led to this shattering conflict.
Abraham Lincoln wondered whether "in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government". Jefferson Davis felt "forced to take up arms" to guarantee states' rights. McPherson merges the words of these men and other political luminaries, housewives, and soldiers from both armies with his own concise analysis of the war to create a story as compelling as any novel.
Battle Cry of Freedom vividly traces how a new nation was forged when a war both sides were sure would amount to little dragged on for four years and cost more American lives than all other wars combined.
Please note: The individual volumes of the series have not been published in historical order. Battle Cry of Freedom is number VI in The Oxford History of the United States.
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"Of the 50,000 books written on the Civil War, [this is] the finest compression of that national paroxysm ever fitted between two covers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
I can't believe I'm coming away from this book longing for more! It's already very long, and as is common with history, long sequnce follows long sequence of information that I know I won't remember. . . still I want to continue. I don't know where my head was when I supposedly learned about the Civil War in school, but in no way did I understand the circumstances that led up to the war (and McPherson goes on for what seems hundreds of pages explaining American circumstances before even arriving at the war years!) Lincoln's election; his position as president with a fickle, questioning congress and public, and the events that led, finally, to the success of the North. I'm struck by the breathtaking realization that the North made millions of stupid mistakes and in reality should have lost the entire campaign. Then filled with amazement at how things that had to work out . . . somehow did. This book provides me with a devastating glimpse of what politics are, what fools we public can be in our views of our leaders, and how true greatness is often quite dim to our eyes . . .until looked at in hindsight. This book is a rigorous gift, and though I've described it as possibly boring in places, it really isn't. Every page is worth the reading.
This series should be read first before all others. It is an excellent perspective of the War from why it started to its final conclusion.
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.
This book has lots of names and tons of info about the war. I'm not great at remembering names, I remember stories and interesting facts. This has enough interesting stories and facts to keep anybody who enjoys american history engaged. I've read a few books lately that were packed full of info about history, the probelem was that they were so extremely dry (and I consider myself to enjoy dry books) that I just couldnt enjoy them. This book is enjoyable. Also the author really seems to be unbiased. He's not like "south bad, north good". He takes each person and group and tells the facts. Listen to it.
I am not a Civil War history buff but my father-in-law read this and raved about it so much my husband decided to purchase it. He used up all our credits on it and I needed something to listen to until we got our new credits on the 10th. I figured I'd just listen to it until then and pitch it for something else.
Well, the 10th came and went and I was still captivated by this story. I was hooked! It's all very factual but wrapped up in such a great sense of import that it was absolutely enthralling. I will admit some of the politics got to be a bit complicated and there are several instances where a visual timeline would have been greatly helpful but as long as I was not intent on memorizing every move, name and circumstance, I found it to be generally enjoyable.
I learned more about the Civil War listening to this than I did in my history classes and it was more interesting than a textbook. I have a completely new appreciation for the struggle our country faced and came through. I plan on looking for a similar book on reconstruction so I can have a feel for how our country began to heal from this tragic era in our history.
I highly recommend this to everyone.
Part two of McPherson's single volume history of the Civil War lives up to the hype. It is simply the best single volume history available on the subject.
Clear, balanced with strong narrative flow and character development. Asks the important questions and presents many possible answers.
The writing and the performance are both perfectly fine, and I would be more than happy to listen to another book by either the author or performer.
I would compare this book to any of the others in the Oxford History of the United States series, all of which are quite good.
Jonathan Davis brings a tone of credibility, which is hard to describe, but is quite appreciated in a book about history.
The book had plenty of redeeming qualities, all of which are mentioned above.
My problem with this book is entirely in the production of the audio file. Most importantly, the chapter breaks in the audio file do not relate to any part of the text. So, for example, skipping to Chapter 5 in the audio file does not start me at the beginning of any chapter in the book at all, let alone at the beginning of Chapter 5. The breaks between the three "Parts" are no different. They come at random times, seemingly in the middle of paragraphs. This is just lazy. This is also the only book in which I've ever noticed this problem. As I indicated above, I enjoyed the writing and the performance, and that is the bulk of the value of my purchase. For those, this book probably deserves a 4 star rating overall. However, the lazy production is bad enough that it seems insulting.
Like its forerunner, vol. 2 of "The Battle Cry of Freedom" gives the most complete & objective overview of the war that I have read. Just as the first volume examines the causes of the war in ways that other histories do not, so the second volume includes a very savvy (if a bit brief) look at the reasons for Union victory (and southern defeat), as well as the influence this victory had on subsequent American history. I cannot recommend either of McPherson's Civil War volumes enough.
The narrator of the audio version does an adequate job.
The performance was annoying, read at half-speed. It put me in mind of Al Gore.
McPherson has many hobby-horses. He is anti-Catholic, anti-Confederate, determinedly leftist. He spouts utter tripe: the Fort Pillow massacre was a slaughter of innocent negroes, for example. The "massacre" was an invention of armchair journalists who weren't there. You won't find any serious historian endorsing this "massacre" story these days. And it's not as though the facts have changed since the 1980s.
The one saving grace of this book is that McPherson gives a good overview of the two or three decades preceding the War. It is a very biased, School of Abolition Dogma overview, but it is coherent all the same.
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