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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era / Edition 1

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Overview

Featuring a new Afterword by the author, this new paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom remains without question the definitive one-volume history of the Civil War. James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that filled the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox.

Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War. A fast-paced narrative integrates the political, social and military events from the outbreak in Mexico to the ending at Appomattox.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Likely to become the standard one-volume history of our Civil War, this vivifies, with palpable immediacy, scholarly acumen and interpretive skill, events foreshadowing the conflict, the war itself and its basic issue: slavery. Photos. (Feb.)
Hugh Brogan
"Historical writing of the highest order." -- New York Times Book Review
Los Angeles Times Book
"Surely...of the 50,000 books written on the Civil War, the finest compression of that national paroxysm ever fitted between two covers."
Washington Post Book World
"The finest single volume on the war and its background." -- The Washington Post Book World
From the Publisher
"Deftly coordinated, gracefully composed, charitably argued and suspensefully paid out, McPherson's book is just the compass of the tumultuous middle years of the 19th century it was intended to be, and as narrative history it is surpassing. Bright with details and fresh quotations, solid with carefully-arrived-at conclusions, it must surely be, of the 50,000 books written on the Civil War, the finest compression of that national paroxysm ever fitted between two covers."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Immediately takes its place as the best one-volume history of the coming of the American Civil War and the war itself. It is a superb narrative history, elegantly written.—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Matchless.... The book's political and economic discussions are as engrossing as the descriptions of military campaigns and personalities."—Library Journal

"McPherson cements his reputation as one of the finest Civil War historians....Should become a standard general history of the Civil War period—it's one that will stand up for years to come."—Kirkus Reviews

"Robust, glittering history."—Booklist

"The best one-volume treatment of [the Civil War era] I have ever come across. It may actually be the best ever published.... I was swept away, feeling as if I had never heard the saga before.... Omitting nothing important, whether military, political, or economic, he yet manages to make everything he touches drive the narrative forward. This is historical writing of the highest order."—Hugh Brogan, New York Times Book Review

"The finest single volume on the war and its background."—The Washington Post Book World

Journal of Military History 54.3 (Jul. 1990): 356-358 - Brian S. Wills
James M. McPherson has written an engaging narrative account of the American Civil War era as part of the Oxford History of the United States series. (...) McPherson's accounts of battles and leaders are concise, informative and colorful.
CHOICE, 07/1988 - E. K. Eckert
An important modern interpretation of the Civil War era by one of its leading historians. McPherson deftly combines the latest research with traditional understanding of the issues to produce the most readable single-volume history of this period. (...) This is an indispensable work for all academic libraries.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195038637
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1988
  • Series: Oxford History of the United States Series , #6
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 944
  • Sales rank: 104,079
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.95 (d)

Meet the Author

James M. McPherson is Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University. His books include The Struggle for Equality, Marching Toward Freedom, and Ordeal by Fire.

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    1. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 11, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Valley City, North Dakota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN) 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1963

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction
Prologue: From the Halls of Montezuma 3
1 The United States at Midcentury 6
2 Mexico Will Poison Us 47
3 An Empire for Slavery 78
4 Slavery, Rum, and Romanism 117
5 The Crime Against Kansas 145
6 Mudsills and Greasy Mechanics for A. Lincoln 170
7 The Revolution of 1860 202
8 The Counterrevolution of 1861 234
9 Facing Both Ways: The Upper South's Dilemma 276
10 Amateurs Go to War 308
11 Farewell to the Ninety Days' War 339
12 Blockade and Beachhead: the Salt-Water War, 1861-1862 369
13 The River War in 1862 392
14 The Sinews of War 428
15 Billy Yank's Chickahominy Blues 454
16 We Must Free the Slaves or Be Ourselves Subdued 490
17 Carry Me Back to Old Virginny 511
18 John Bull's Virginia Reel 546
19 Three Rivers in Winter, 1862-1863 568
20 Fire in the Rear 591
21 Long Remember: The Summer of '63 626
22 Johnny Reb's Chattanooga Blues 666
23 When This Cruel War Is Over 689
24 If It Takes All Summer 718
25 After Four Years of Failure 751
26 We Are Going To Be Wiped Off the Earth 774
27 South Carolina Must Be Destroyed 807
28 We Are All Americans 831
Epilogue: To the Shoals of Victory 853
Afterword 863
Abbreviated Titles 868
Bibliographic Note 870
Index 888
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 98 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(62)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 98 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    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 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.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent one volumn treatment of the Civil War

    I am a history book fan in general but have just started reading about the Civil War. I picked up Shelby Foote's 3 volumn set, but got a little bogged down and decided I needed something a little more brief. I am so glad that I picked up "Battle Cry of Freedom". It does a great job of condensing a huge amount of material into a single book. It also tells a good deal about the elements that lead up to the war itself. It does not have a tremendous amount of detail about the individual battles (it couldn't and still be in one book) but I think gives a great overall view of the war. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn more about this conflict.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    Outstanding overview of the Civil War

    This book was on my shelf for a while because I was a little intimidated by it's length, but it was well worth the time invested! This book would really be great for someone who didn't know much about the Civil War and wanted a comprehensive overview or for someone like me who has read a bunch of different stuff on the Civil War and can always use something like this to pull it all back together and put the pieces in context again.

    What always amazes me when reading things like this is, given the almost mythological status that Lincoln has achieved in U.S. history, how unpopular he was with so many people at the time and how close he came to almost losing the election against McClellan in 1864. The other thing that always amazes me is how the Confederate leaders like Joe Johnston and Jefferson Davis refused to acknowledge that they were going to lose the war, even as late as December 1864-January 1865.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    This outstanding book starts at the beginning, and I don't mean secession or Fort Sumter' but the REAL beginning ... and covers all of the multitude of socio-economic and political reasons for the Civil War before ever getting into what happened between 1861-1865. If you want a have a stronger understanding of how it came to pass that we slaightered each other by the many thousands for all of those four years, and you read nothing else on the subject, you should read 'Battle Cry of Freedom'! You still probably won't completely accept that it actually had to happen, but you will have a much better handle on how and why it did take place ...

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 17, 2011

    Best Single-Volume Book about the Civil War

    This the first-ever book I read about the Civil War, many years ago. McPherson captures the build-up to the conflict, the fascinating events leading to secession, and then describes each battle and the progression towards the inevitable victory of Union forces - as if McPherson actually was there, himself, and the reader feels the same. The rare gift of making historic event alive is a skill, McPherson masters. If you're a new student of the Civil War, or want to understand, what USA is made of, this is - hands down - the best single volume, you can get your hands on. Once you've read and want to 'trade up', I recommend Shelby Foote's trilogy above all, before you launch yourself into the ever-expanding sea of stunningly well-written books about each battle, or even very detailed accounts of parts of a battle, etc.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

    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.

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Best history Ive ever read

    A perfect history, a reader only needs to know the bare bones of the issues to understand McPhearson's sweaping narrative.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    OUTSTANDING!

    I've read a lot of books on the Civil War but this is the best! It's an academic study that goes beyond battles; it explains motivations and how they changed as the years went on. It may be a tough book for some.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Good Resource

    I used this audio version of Battle Cry of Freedom in conjunction with the actual book for a Civil War course I was taking. I enjoyed being able to listen while driving. This is a great resource, but I do not recommend it in place of the book. There were definitely parts I wanted to go back and study in the book. The only drawback I found was that the audio clips did not correspond to the chapters in the book. If you are using the Overdrive Console it is no problem because it shows the chapters for you, but I was using it on my ipod and it was difficult to find a certain chapter or part. Besides that it was great!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    glad i read it

    loved this book. enjoyed the details and made me feel like i was there. go ahead and pick this book up if you like civil war and be happy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    great book even for a stranger

    though this is a large volume it is very readable the book combines military with political history and weaves them together for a most readable story mcpherson has his moral stands and they permeate through the book which is fine with me though i am a stranger from a farway land i found the book most interesting

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2007

    Totally addresses the issue like no other single book.

    This outstanding book starts at the beginning 'and I don't mean secession or Fort Sumter' but the real beginning ... and covers all of the multitude of socio-economic and political reasons for the Civil War before ever getting into what happened between 1861-1865. If you want a have a stronger understanding of how it came to pass that we slaightered each other by the many thousands for all of those four years, and you read nothing else on the subject, you should read 'Battle Cry of Freedon'! You still probably won't completely accept that it actually had to happen, but you will have a much better handle on how and why it did take place ...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2006

    Well Written and Detailed

    McPherson does an excellent explaining not only the War in and of itself, but also the circumstances leading up to and surrounding it. For instance, he delves into detail about the economic abilities of the Union and Confederacy to finance the war but also spends time describing the causes which impelled Britain to withhold her recongnition of the Confederacy. On the other hand, some of this detail gets in the way of telling the Civil War story. Also, McPherson's accounts of certain battles during the war, such as Stonewall Jacksons campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, are hard to understand and follow. Nonetheless, the author's account of most battles, the progress of the war and consequences of each battle both politically and militarily are beyond reproach. Professor McPherson also does a great job keeping the book alive and interesting, as opposed to allowing it to fall into a regurgitation of statistics and men that so many Civil War books have become

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2003

    One of, if not the best book on this historic era.

    A valuable lesson on our nation's history. This book talks about facts that other books I've had failed to bring out. The great introduction for the cause of this war is indepth and keeps your attention. The description of the political and civil climate allows the reader to "be there in that era". I recently visited Gettysburg and this book was in all the stores. I now have a true understanding of why this terrible war happened. A must read for a history buff or anyone who loves a great read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2002

    The best yet

    This is the best civil war book I have ever read-out of perhaps a hundred. I particularly found fascinating the information about the events of the early 1800's that led up to the civil war. The narrative about the war itself is not just a rehash of "this general did this and the other did that". The author writes with clear and thorough insight into the politics on both sides, both before and during the war. If you ever wanted to understand the "big picture" about the civil war, this is it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    Awesome Book on the Civil War

    Not only is this a great book on the Civil War but is probably the best history book I've ever read. It goes into many aspects of the war, i.e. the political, the social, the military, etc. Because of this you get a broad based understanding of the war and its causes. The author strenuously attempts to be objective and when controversial so called facts come up, he usually presents several of the viewpoints instead of just his own. If you want to read just one book on the Civil War, this is a great choice.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is probably more a political than military history. McPhers

    This is probably more a political than military history. McPherson brings in many snippets of information that are revealing. Did you know that a Civil War general was 50 percent more likely to be killed or wounded than his men? I have never read Allan Nevins 8 book history of the era - it is just too big - but this probably supersedes that as the best overview of all aspects of the war.

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  • Posted August 21, 2013

    As I was perusing my local library, I stumble upon this undeniab

    As I was perusing my local library, I stumble upon this undeniably succinct narrative of the civil war. McPherson was able to seamlessly explain, in detail, the events the led to the civil war, the war itself and the victory of the union. The author offers a pragmatic explanation of possible reasons why the union won the war and even boldly offers "what-ifs" had the confederacy won. If you read ONE book on the civil war, this should be it.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Superb overview of the Civil War - a Must Read

    Clear narrative style, contains all the major political, social, and military topics, a pleasure to read and contemplate. A thoughtful and well researched presentation of this complex national struggle.

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  • Posted July 31, 2013

    Four stars for any studdent of he cicil war era.

    An interesting book to say the least. I'd recommend it to anyone who has a curiosity about the events preceding the civil war. Onre observation I have is that the same politicians, military leaders existed then as now. The same back biting, the same one upmansship as now. The difference seems to be in the speed of the communication ssystem. As now seemingly small evens turtned into national issues. Political power seems to have been greater then. Many "boy generals" emerged... some pretty dood

    Theree is no war as devistating as a civil war. It is illustrated in the overwhelming issue of the day involving slavery. Mr. McPhearson did a good job of painting a picture of events and those who supported and opposed the war. It is interesting to see how Lincoln's leadewrship was lkey to bringing the coundry back together. IOn any event I believe this book is worth the read for any student of the civil war. I'd give it 4 stars for the most part.

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