20 Good Reasons to Study the Civil War / Edition 1

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The Civil War was a unique watershed, not only in American history but world history. Since the last gun was fired before Appomattox, it has fascinated and mesmerized us, as vivid in our imaginations as it was real in the lives of those who fought it.

There are many compelling reasons to study that epochal event in our past. Not only is it absolutely unique in history, not only a watershed that defined us as a nation, but it was a war of important firsts, a war to save the democratic form of government and the freedoms that we now enjoy. It ended slavery in our country and pioneered new ways of waging war on land and on the water.

It catapulted us into a new industrial and technological world and destroyed and made fortunes. Its politics were fascinating and crucial. It gave birth to a new journalism and an impressive body of literature and tested our faith as nothing ever has.

This book, written by a noted Civil War historian, expands on twenty important reasons why the Civil War should continue to be a central study for us all.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Here at last is a real topic to those who keep asking why we should learn about the Civil War today. Its twenty simple reasons with examples could well be adapted for classroom use, and to good effect. Indeed, it should be required reading for teachers desperate to find means to make history come alive. John Waugh has written several distinguished works of history, but this modest little guide may be the most important of all" -William C. Davis

"John Waugh is a great writer. His new book- 20 Good Reasons to Study the Civil War- is a masterpiece." Grady McWhiney

"Another good reason for studying the Civil War is its stimulation of books like John Waugh's. His easy style invokes the pathos, courage, the very spirit of the war itself. Readers from professionals to buffs to raw recruits will in joy what's in here." -Frank E. Vandiver

The Social Studies Texan
"20 Good Reasons to Study the Civil War may emerge as the pivotal tool that converts the most jaded student into the most eager to learn more."
The Texas Review
"a slim volume that is long on substance and sound in thought. . . . the insight he renders and the gems he offers invariably induce thought, not only about this direct subject but with regard to later periods of history as well."
The Civil War Courier
...a great aid in the teacher's classroom.
Eclectic Homeschool Online
". . . this book would be a great 'opener' to studying the War. . . . excellent . . . simply outstanding."
Review of Texas Books
The book could also be adapted for direct classroom use as a primer
on the war and a marvelous lead-in for any of the countless historical
analyses of the war and will well serve teachers interested in making
the war come alive for contemporary times. . . . Highly recommended
for all university libraries and public school libraries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893114463
  • Publisher: State House/McWhiney Foundation Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN C. WAUGH is a journalist turned historical reporter. After an eighteen-year career as a correspondent and bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor, reporting the twentieth century, he began instead reporting the nineteenth, specializing in his lifelong fascination, the Civil War. He has since written eight books about that pivotal passage in American history, among them the award-winning The Class of 1846, Reelecting Lincoln, Surviving the Confederacy, On the Brink of Civil War, and two titles from McWhiney Foundation Press, Sam Bell Maxey and the Confederate Indians and Last Stand at Mobile. He has also served on the senior staffs of two national politicians, former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. He lives in Pantego, Texas and can be reached at waugh@sbcglobal.net for interview.
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Read an Excerpt

Reason One: It Was Unique

If events in history could be called Wonders of the Past- as seven magnificent man-made spectaculars of antiquity were called Wonders of the World- the American Civil War would doubtless be one of them.

The Civil War was to history the equivalent of a wonder of the world, a towering passage in the human experience that would rival such man-made wonders as the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, the Colossus of Rhodes, or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Like them, the Civil War excites awe. It was not beautiful as those great wonders were. It was bloody, violent, and heartbreaking,a distaste in its toll of human lives, in the anguish and sorrow it left in its track, in its political, social, and emotional upheaval.

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Table of Contents


Foreward by Jim Lehrer                                                                                           
1. Because It Was Unique                                                                                       
2. Because It Was a Watershed in American History                                             
3. Because It Was a War of Firsts                                                                          
4. Because It Saved Republican Government                                                         
5. Because It Killed Slavery
6. Because It Originated New Ways of Waging War
7. Because It Revolutionized War on the Water
8. Because It Teaches Us Brotherhood
9. Because It Showcases Undaunting Courage
10. Because It Made Heroes
11. Because It Created a New Industrial America
12. Because It Produced Men of Fabulous Fortunes
13. Because It Was a War of Political Oddities
14. Because It Pioneered a New Journalism
15. Because It Inspired Great Literature
16. Because It Tested Our Faith
17. Because It Is Our Own Direct Tie to the Past
18. Because It Makes Us Remember
19. Because It is Great Drama
20. Because It Speaks to Us Still
How to Study It


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