Customer Reviews for

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

An Invaluable Resource for Students of American History

James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom is an epic tome that provides an in-depth view of the Civil War. He gives a detailed analysis of the battles, along with the significant political and social activities that surrounded this conflict. Because McPherson's research ...
James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom is an epic tome that provides an in-depth view of the Civil War. He gives a detailed analysis of the battles, along with the significant political and social activities that surrounded this conflict. Because McPherson's research is scholarly (not to mention a Pulitzer Prize winning book, with an author who is the Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton) this volume is invaluable to the student of American history as a reputable research tool.

McPherson includes quotes, maps, tables and several pages of compelling Civil War photographs within the pages of his narrative. The structure McPherson uses is for the most part chronological, however, the scope of the conflict is such that chronology alone is not fully possible. There is significant overlap of time, especially as he gives full measure to the intricacies of the sectional conflict and the political scene for both sections of the country.

McPherson is easy to read and entertaining, even when tackling this comprehensive exploration of the subject of the Civil War. Not for the faint-hearted though, or for someone wanting a casual weekend read; this volume is a whopping 867 pages not including the bibliography or notes.

With an emphasis on Civil War battles, this book is an excellent resource for the student of American history, and an excellent companion to books that focus on the Social history of the same era.

posted by Amela_Renee on April 12, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Wouldn't buy again..

Slanted to the north, very disappointed in it. Too thick for comfortable reading. Review the author before you buy the book.

posted by 4508481 on June 15, 2011

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    Recommended highly for understanding the buildup to and the Conduct of the Civil War

    Easy to read history of the build-up to the Civil War and the Civil War itself. The coverage of the battles was not overly detailed but did note the military strategies and outcomes. The battles were fairly conventional in the coverage - after all how many times have they been written about - but the build-up to the War is nicely organized and well argued. The strongest part of the book may be statement on and review of the various reasons given for both the War and the dominance of the north. McPherson cogently argues that the North was the future that unfolded in parts of Europe as well as the United States. This future had been held back by the political dominance of the south but was unleashed when the south seceded. He also captures the racism that stopped reconstruction and was evident in the Democratic Party campaigns against the "Black Republicans." I look forward a book on reconstruction from McPherson as that topic has not been honestly handled as well as it could be. In sum, a very honest history of our Civil War with insights into some of the why's about both the start and conclusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Amazing Accuracy

    McPherson knows how to get the details to you. His portrayal of the information is always first rate.

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  • Posted February 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A few years ago, I decided I wanted to read all of the Oxford Hi

    A few years ago, I decided I wanted to read all of the Oxford History of the United States. Several volumes are highly regarded, so I started with them in chronological order. I found the first three of the series marvelous, particularly Robert Middlekauf's The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789.

    In my last semester as a senior at Ball State University, the last final I took and called it a wrap was a Civil War class. The class used James McPherson's Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. I thought that McPherson book well written and excellent.

    Battle Cry of Freedom covers much of the same ground, though it is more narrowly focused--primarily by leaving out Reconstruction, which will be covered in as yet unpublished volume in the series.

    This book is a straight-up history, though McPherson brings to bear a formidable knowledge and insight. Readable, the book's narrative arc is necessarily framed by the war itself, though McPherson takes pains to discuss the transformations occurring in America even then. Still, very little is said of the west.

    The principle actors are treated with a measured response, and McPherson refuses to take the simple view of commanders and leaders. If you don't like your history full of descriptions of campaigns and battles, this book is not for you. If you are a Civil War buff, then this book deserves a place on your shelf for a larger narrative, though I doubt it will satisfy in technical and detailed information that more focused texts will bring.

    I do praise McPherson though for holding firm to the cause of the Civil War. Many like to equivocate that the Civil War was fought over state's rights versus federal rights. In the larger picture this is a true statement, but this attempts to obfuscate the issue that the Civil War was about a state's right to retain slavery. The years building up the war witnessed continuing and bitter battles to ensure that representation in Congress (particularly the Senate) maintained an equal number of Senators from slave-holding states and from non-slave-holding states. Eventually, the center could not hold and war ensued. The southern states rebelled against the Union so that it could preserve a state's right to continue slavery. McPherson keeps this clear.

    Well written with plenty of detail while maintaining a strong narrative, McPherson's book is an excellent read for a general overview of the Civil War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012

    G

    Great book! For thanksgiving I am writing a play on the Battle of Manassas ( or Bull Run). I got lots of great information out of this book!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Only my third. .

    This is only the third book I have read about the Civil War. I would recommend this to anyone who wants an over view of the war. McPherson and his approach were great. He started off the book detailing the political atmosphere a decade before the war started all the way through it and some after. I learned many things I have never known. My only negative remark concerning this book would be how the author did jump around, telling about things to come and explaining them before they ever happened and then going back to the topic he was originally on. While at times this was distracting, it overall didn't diminish from what I learned or how much I enjoyed the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    good overview of the civil war era

    this is a highly absorbing book if you are a history buff. While there are thousands of civil war books out there this is a very readable book that flows well. It does a very good job of exploring the american political landscape leading to the civil war and helps to put the differnces between the north and south into a perpesctive that I was unaware of before. So much has been written about the civil war battles and tactics this book is more everyday america in that period and is very well presented in an interesting way

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    Best single volume book on the civil war

    Still the best singlevolume history of the civil war.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2003

    Excellent Book

    This is a great book. Great for all, and a must read for info on the civil war. Not dry at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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