A magnificent history of the opening years of the Civil War by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bruce Catton.
The first book in Bruce Catton's Pulitzer Prize-winning Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Mr. Lincoln's Army is a riveting history of the early years of the Civil War, when a fledgling Union Army took its stumbling first steps under the command of the controversial general George McClellan. Following the secession of the Southern states, a beleaguered President Abraham Lincoln entrusted the dashing, charismatic McClellan with the creation of the Union's Army of the Potomac and the responsibility of leading it to a swift and decisive victory against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Although a brilliant tactician who was beloved by his troops and embraced by the hero-hungry North, McClellan's ego and ambition ultimately put him at loggerheads with his commander in chief - a man McClellan considered unworthy of the presidency.
McClellan's weaknesses were exposed during the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, which ended in a stalemate even though the Confederate troops were greatly outnumbered. After Antietam, Lincoln ordered McClellan's removal from command, and the Union entered the war's next chapter having suffered thousands of casualties and with great uncertainty ahead.
America's premier chronicler of the nation's brutal internecine conflict, Bruce Catton is renowned for his unparalleled ability to bring a detailed and vivid immediacy to Civil War battlefields and military strategy sessions. With tremendous depth and insight, he presents legendary commanders and common soldiers in all their complex and heartbreaking humanity.
©1951, 1962 Bruce Catton (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
The Army of the Potomac is one of the finest Civil War series ever written. Bruce Catton, the former editor of American Heritage, was a natural story teller and this series is one of his two master works; the last book in the series was awarded a Pulitzer. The Army of the Potomac focuses on the development & growth of the officers and men of the federal army, unusual in civil war histories which tend to focus on the Confederacy which, more often than not treat the federals as a backdrop for the confederacy. This series explains why the larger, better equipped federal army struggled so fiercely against the confederacy and often fell so short, avoiding the trap of lionizing the outsized personalities of R.E.Lee and T.J.Jackson which overshadow their early federal counterparts. He also shows that it wasn't so much the brilliance of Gen's Lee & Jackson (not a Napolean in sight) but rather a broken federal system that turned the rebellion in Virginia, into a four year bloody slog. The Army of the Potomac pays tribute to the million or so men who actually fought the war to hold the republic together.
Unfortunately, this wonderful series is butchered by a dismal reader. Mr Collins has no sense of dramatic timing while telling the tale of this most dramatic of wars, his elocution is forced, and words are pronounced as if delivering a lesson to a grade school full of bored students. There isn't a touch of natural timing in his delivery and I wound up speeding up the recording in order to make the listening tolerable. I might have returned it had I not waited nearly 10 years for an audio version of this series.
Final summary, this series is a civil war cannon ranking among the greats. The reader, not so much.
Who could possibly have approved Mr. Collins as a suitable narrator for this well known book?! His manner of speech and frequent mispronunciations are so distracting as to make it challenging to focus on the material.
That said...the book is otherwise a treat and is chock full of anecdotal tales of the two amateur armies who found themselves in a shooting war that would expand far beyond anyone's darkest fears.
An oldster with a 45 year career in broadcast news, while also a advisor to major political campaigns. History was his Journalism specialty.
Bruce Catton was a boy. A curious boy who tugged at whiskers of old men wanting to awaken the strands of knowledge ONLY these old men could know.
He tugged very well indeed.
Catton obviously loved these quiet, under educated men. He loved them well enough to do them the honor on letting them each come through the fog of war with clarity absolute.
The wonder is that this book is just the first in a trilogy of trilogies. Here is the Army of The Potomac. It's the Union armor of the east but also tells the great ventures of the Confederates who nearly always beat them.
You know the very heartbeat of these men and their fight and tears and incredible laughter too. What a treat their story is. The were ignorant boys to begin the war. Never more than maybe 30 miles from the place they born before or after the war, they learned anything worth knowing at all about all humanity in the short four years they walked and killed in the nation.
Bruce Catton became a magnificent teacher and writer as he studied them and put pencil to his note paper.
You must read him in the same order as the books were made. That is a must to gain Mr Cattons' full power. But make no mistake, there is no "heavy" study here. Just beautiful, vibrant LIFE! (Yes. Even in all this death among the soldiers. War is captured here and in all the world none are more alive than these soldiers.
This book. ALL the others Bruce Catton crafted. Will stun you. Stun you. Absolutely... Stun.
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