The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It

The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It

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by Brooks D. Simpson
     
 

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After 150 years the Civil War is still our greatest national drama, at once heroic, tragic, and epic-our Iliad, but also our Bible, a story of sin and judgment, suffering and despair, death and resurrection in a "new birth of freedom." Drawn from letters, diaries, speeches, articles, poems, songs, military reports, legal opinions, and memoirs, The Civil War:

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Overview

After 150 years the Civil War is still our greatest national drama, at once heroic, tragic, and epic-our Iliad, but also our Bible, a story of sin and judgment, suffering and despair, death and resurrection in a "new birth of freedom." Drawn from letters, diaries, speeches, articles, poems, songs, military reports, legal opinions, and memoirs, The Civil War: The First Year gathers over 120 pieces by more than sixty participants to create a unique firsthand narrative of this great historical crisis. Beginning on the eve of Lincoln's election in November 1860 and ending in January 1862 with the appointment of Edwin M. Stanton as secretary of war, this volume presents writing by figures well-known-Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Mary Chesnut, Frederick Douglass, and Lincoln himself among them-and less familiar, like proslavery advocate J.D.B. DeBow, Lieutenants Charles B. Haydon of the 2nd Michigan Infantry and Henry Livermore Abbott of the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and plantation mistresses Catherine Edmondston of North Carolina and Kate Stone of Mississippi. Together, the selections provide a powerful sense of the immediacy, uncertainty, and urgency of events as the nation was torn asunder. Includes headnotes, a chronology of events, biographical and explanatory endnotes, full-color hand-drawn endpaper maps, and an index. Companion volumes will gather writings from the second, third, and final years of the conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Drawing on diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper reports and editorials, memoirs, songs, poems, and other sources, the editors bring together a rich variety of voices relating or remembering the crisis of the Union from Lincoln's election in 1860 through the first year of war. Running through these accounts is white Southerners' certainty in the right of secession and their right to undertake war to defend slavery's interest and white man's liberty, as is the certainty of Northerners in the right and necessity of saving the Union by whatever means to continue the great experiment in self-government. At the same time, confusion and doubt reign as contemporaries worry about how to achieve their ends and whom to trust to do so. VERDICT Readable and riveting, this "you are there" collection makes real the sense of urgency that gripped Americans as the nation came apart and as the war began, 175 years ago. An excellent primer on why the Civil War mattered to those living it. Highly recommended. [Look out for LJ's roundup of several more sesquicentennial Civil War titles in the 3/15/11 issue.—Ed.]—Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781598530889
Publisher:
Library of America
Publication date:
02/03/2011
Pages:
640
Sales rank:
720,860
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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