"This fascinating social history, through Golay's expert use of sources, brings to life a time in America's past that promised so much but delivered so little, expecially to former slaves."-Publishers Weekly
"A tautly woven narrative history..Lively and readable."-Kirkus Reviews
In a fascinating approach that allows the voices of those touched by the Civil War to speak for themselves, gifted writer Michael Golay shows the impact of victory and defeat on the ordinary Americans who both influenced events and were caught up in them. Using illuminating new material, much of it previously unpublished, Golay takes a unique perspective by interweaving personal histories of soldiers and civilians with the larger events of the Civil War. Among the events of this bitter conflict, Golay illuminates the impact of Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas, the despair caused by the assassination of Lincoln, the first bitter weeks of armistice, the immediate postwar life in a devastated, chaotic South, and the promise of freedom for African American slaves. Through the letters, diaries, and other literary remains of those who experienced the war, we gain a vivid, panoramic look at the effects of a bitter struggle and at the efforts of both sides to work toward a solution to problems where effective answers were elusive.