An American Iliad: The Story of the Civil War / Edition 2

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An updated edition of this concise yet comprehensive history of the Civil War, written by a distinguished historian of the conflict. Charles Roland skillfully interweaves the story of battles and campaigns with accounts of the major political, diplomatic, social, and cultural events of the epoch and insightful sketches of the leading actors. Of prime interest are the contrasts he draws between the opposing presidents and generals. What traits, he asks, made Lincoln superior to Davis as a war leader? How were Union military leaders able to forge a more effective fighting force, a more comprehensive strategy than their opponents? Roland's thoughtful anwers and his recognition of the contadictions of human nature and the interpaly of intention and chance raise this book above a mere recounting of military events. The story of the Civil War is the epic of the American people. Never has it been told more movingly.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Provides a perspective, depth, and insight remarkable for a book of its size and scope." — Florida Historical Quarterly

"As an introduction, you couldn't ask for a better place to start, and for the veteran Civil War reader there are new questions to ponder." — Richmond Times-Dispatch

"May be the best single-volume short history of the war." — Southern Partisan

"The best concise narrative of the war currently available." — Journal of Mississippi History

"New buffs will find this probably the best single volume with which to begin their journey into the war. Teachers will find it a splendid introductory." — Journal of Southern History

"Roland's prose is clear, and especially in the battle segments, quite readable." — Library Journal

"An excellent display of clear, succinct prose... Masterfully groups the myriad of battles into a series of campaigns that introduce all the key commanders and strategic decisions." — North Carolina Historical Review

"This volume is surely the best brief history of the United States and the Confederate State at war." — Emory M. Thomas

"The best introduction to the nation's great trauma." — Gary W. Gallagher

"An extraordinary synthesis by one of the most respected historians in the field." — James I. Robertson Jr.

"An American Iliad is a unique addition to a conflict that has filled thousands of pages in the past century. The book is unique because it looks at the entire Civil War in a highly readable and narrative style and in only one volume...Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Roland's book is his comparison of Confederate leaders to Union leaders with a focus on why Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman were ultimately successful on a strategic and tactical level...The book also splendidly outlines the key battles of the Civil War and the impact they would have on the Union and Confederacy...This is an excellent book for those wanting to rediscover the American Civil War, and to launch the tremendous amount of reading required to understand this conflict so integral to the American character." — The Waterline

"Roland wonderfully synthesizes the work and study of generations to produce a sharp and incisive study that will last." — William C. Davis

"This is an excellent book for those wanting to re-discover the American Civil War, and to launch the beginning of an intensive amount of reading to understand this conflict that is integral to the American character." — Great Lakes Bulletin

"Roland's book is the starting point for a serious student to begin his study of the Civil War." — Larry Freiheit, Roll Call to Destiny Book Contest

Library Journal
Like many other Civil War historians, Roland here summarizes the results of years of research and writing in a narrative aimed at the general reading public. He tackles most of the important topics: military mobilization, governmental administration, political developments, and, primarily, the military events that have traditionally seized Americans' imaginations; he also briefly discusses the experiences of blacks, women, and dissenters. Roland's prose, while not always graceful, is clear and, especially in battle segments, quite readable. He effectively contrasts the leading figures on both sides and argues that the North won the war because of superior leadership and a more effective development of national policy and military strategy. Roland's work is less comprehensive than James McPherson's recent Battle Cry of Freedom (LJ 3/1/88; an LJ ``Best Book'') and less analytical than the work of Phillip Shaw Paludan and Emory Thomas, respectively, on the wartime North ( A People's Contest, Harper, 1988) and South ( The Confederate Nation 1861-1865, LJ 4/1/79), but it will be useful for general readers or for upper division history courses on the Civil War era.-- James Marten, Marquette Univ., Milwaukee
Assesses over 200 years of publication in this genre through examination of the individual magazines. The first part contains substantial articles on some 100 important magazines; the second comprises 400 briefer entries; the third part lists additional titles; and the fourth presents three comprehensive essays on college humor magazines, scholarly humor magazines, and humor in American almanacs. A well-respected historian of the period presents a concise coherent account of the Civil War. He draws on his detailed knowledge of the fortunes of battles, the origin and depths of strategies, the political labyrinths on both sides, and the personal strengths and weaknesses of presidents and generals to illuminate his views on human nature and national history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813123004
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/28/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 458,397
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles P. Roland is an Alumni Professor Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. A native of Tennessee, he holds a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He has served on the faculties of Louisiana State University, Tulane University, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the South and on the Civil War. These include a history of the Confederacy and a biography of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston. Professor Roland’s career in American military history has been unusual, if not unique. He fought as an infantry officer in Europe during World War II and has served as Assistant to the Chief Historian of the United States Army, as the Harold Keith Johnson Visiting Professor of Military History at the United States Army Military History Institute and Army War College, as the Visiting Professor of Military History at the United States Military Academy, and as chairman of the Department of the Army Historical Advisory Committee. Professor Roland has been president of the Louisiana Historical Association and the Southern Historical Association.
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Table of Contents

I The Final Compromise 1
II A Parting of the Ways 15
III The Resort to Arms 30
IV Mobilization and Early Campaigns 43
V Emerging Generals and Escalating Combat 68
VI Union Government, Administration, and Emancipation 88
VII Confederate Government and Administration 102
VIII The Strategic Balance 117
IX The Turn of the Tide of Battle 134
X The Contest for European Favor 156
XI Military Success and Political Victory 168
XII The Resurgent North 191
XIII The Beleaguered South 208
XIV The Union Triumphant 230
XV Reflections on Men and Measures 248
XVI Sequel 256
Sources 267
Index 276
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