David S. Reynolds
Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstructionby Allen C. Guelzo
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The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges. In Fateful Lightning, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South. Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.
David S. Reynolds
"Guelzo's book is a shining example of the virtues of the macro approach when it is undertaken with energy and efficiency. By panning out and reviewing the events that occurred over several decades, Guelzo offers a useful synthesis of the developing Civil War narrative..." The New York Times
"It's hard to imagine a better one-volume history of the American Civil War than Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo's new work." The Washington Times
"Guelzo's prose is graceful and erudite - indeed, almost poetic. His is as comfortable with military topics as he is with the political, social, and economic aspects of the war and its aftermath." The Weekly Standard
"Allen C. Guelzo's new book should occupy the same position in the current Civil War sesquicentennial as Bruce Catton's books did 50 years ago during the war's centennial. Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War & Reconstruction deserves this prominence for Guelzo's thorough knowledge of the subject, his ability to draw fresh conclusion, and his exceptional writing skills." The Saturday Evening Post
"This is an outstanding effort to recount and explain our greatest national trauma to general readers." Booklist
"With his accustomed eloquence and erudition, Allen C. Guelzo has produced a grand and sweeping account of the Civil War, vividly depicting its events, its characters, and, most of all, the ideas that drove them. Fateful Lightning is destined to take its place alongside the classic narratives of the nation's greatest crisis." Steven E. Woodworth, author of This Great Struggle: America's Civil War
"[A] splendidly-written narrative" Civil War Book Review
"Fateful Lightning is a splendid accomplishment." David Frum, Daily Beast
"Fateful Lightning is a wonderful book. It is the summit of a long career of a consumate historian. ... [A] timely addition to a long tradition of scholarly histories of both the Civil War and Reconstruction. ... Guelzo seamlessly weaves the history of actual warfare with other cultural and historical events of the time. ... Because it is so well-written and produces such an engrossing story, it is one that students and scholars alike will relish." International Social Science Review
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Meet the Author
Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, both of which won the Lincoln Prize. His most recent books on Lincoln and the Civil War era are Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Very interesting book, a lot of detailed information. A must read for a Civil War fan.
Very painstakingly detailed of the role of states rights vs countries rights. Also paralleled to plight of the slaves and the laws holding them down. This is the most detailed and interesting path from the Revolution to the Civil War I have every read. His book on Gettysburg is also a must read for any Civil War buff.
Very difficult read, too much detail, not comparable to McPherson.