Customer Reviews for

What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    In Chandra Manning's monograph, What This Cruel War Was Over, she argues that soldiers believed slavery was the single most important cause of conflict between the North and South. She acknowledges that many Union soldiers enlisted to preserve the Union rather than to fight slavery, but affirms that ideas such as slavery and emancipation were constant topics of discussion. More specifically, throughout her book she primarily focuses on what was personally motivating for soldiers to fight in the American Civil War. In order to support her thesis, she ignores the writings of elites and offers perspectives from ordinary people. She digs deeper to find the real opinions of the Union and the Confederate soldiers, whites and blacks, as well as immigrants. Through extensive research, Manning examines the wartime experience of soldiers through the use of letters, diaries, and newspapers, in order to understand how war shaped their views on slavery. This book truly opened my eyes not from the perspective of a regular history book or a magazine article, it offered me a first hand account of what everyday soldiers were doing during the war and more importantly why they were doing it.
    Overall, Chandra Manning's book Half Slave and Half Free: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War is well put together yet aimed at general readers and audiences alike. It was an easy read, yet it was also very insightful and I learned a lot about the common Civil War soldier's experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone who in interested in a unique perspective on how race and the institution of slavery influenced men to volunteer, risk their lives, and fight in the American Civil War.

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    Highly Recommend for anyone intersted int the Civil War!

    If you have any slight interest in the Civil War I highly reccomend reading this book! The first chapter is a little slow, but the rest of the book is a quick read. Manning offers a unique point of view that I have never seen explored in depth before! Manning uses primary sources to present the unique opinons of Civil War soldiers. This is a brilliant strategy, because it is not the same stories about Lincoln and other Civil War leaders it is a new view coming from the soldiers themselves. At the heart of her argument, Manning focuses on what the soldiers think about emancipation, and it is trully riveting. Like I said it does start off a little slow, but once she starts really presenting her argument I could not put it down. What is even more unique than just presenting soldier views is that it is views from soldiers both Confederate and Union, white and black. It really put me into the minds of these soldiers. I also suggest reading it while watching Ken Burns "The Civil War" I had to do this for a class assignment and both materials together help give a unique perspective on the Civil War.

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  • Posted November 9, 2010

    Absolutely Brilliant!!!

    What This Cruel War Was Over is a brilliant and unique novel written by an author who clearly demonstrates the power of research and the written word. Although the view of slavery being the primary cause of the Civil War is nothing new in the minds of Americans, Manning is able to portray the subject in a manner that makes it seem like completely new knowledge. Seeing the events of the war unfold through the eyes of the lay men that fought it as well as the disparate views on the issue of slavery paint a tragic picture that immerses readers.
    Manning shows how all people involved viewed slavery and emancipation. Whether a citizen of the Union or the Confederacy, black or white, everyone had a vision of what slavery and emancipation meant not only to the Civil War, but to the future of America as well. This book is a must read for history buffs everywhere and serves to provide heartfelt meaning to the reasons why we fought the most deadly war in American history.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    Recommended

    This is Chandra Manning's first book. The book utilizes primary resources and examines the perspectives of Union and Confederate soldiers. The book examines the timeline of the war year by year to show the evolution of the changing role slavery played in the war according to the soldiers. The Union soldiers viewed slavery as the cause of the war and overtime sought its abolition due to the cruelty they viewed in the south and the actions of black soldiers. The north believed that the institution of slavery was dehumanizing for both the slave and the master, because slave master's often engaged in the 'fancy' slave trade and intermixed the races. This shows that racism was rife in the north as well as the south.

    The southern soldiers viewed slavery as being morally sound due to its mention in the Bible and used it to justify their identity as white men. The majority of Confederate soldiers weren't slave owners, but they were willing to fight for the Confederate cause to preserve their way of life; They believed in white supremacy over blacks. The author uses examples such as Union General Butler's "Woman Order" and the actions of C.S.A. citizens actions towards confederate soldiers to show their decreasing morale, but they still fought for the south to preserve what they perceived as the natural order of things. If the north won the war, they felt they would be racial lines would become blurred leading to "miscegenation." The book offered an interesting glimpse into the attitudes of soldiers during the time period and it was interesting to see how the changes in morale due to battles helped to form their opinions on slavery. It was a good book, I'd recommend it for classrooms.

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    Posted December 31, 2009

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    Posted May 22, 2011

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