Fields of Fury: The American Civil War

Fields of Fury: The American Civil War

by James M. McPherson

Pulitzer Prize award-winning historian James M. McPherson has written for young readers a stirring account of the greatest conflict to happen on our nation's soil, the Civil War, bringing to life the tragic struggle that divided not only a nation, but also friends and family. From the initial Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, to the devastating loss of life at


Pulitzer Prize award-winning historian James M. McPherson has written for young readers a stirring account of the greatest conflict to happen on our nation's soil, the Civil War, bringing to life the tragic struggle that divided not only a nation, but also friends and family. From the initial Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, to the devastating loss of life at Shiloh as Ulysses S. Grant led the Union to unexpected victory, to the brilliance of Stonewall Jackson's campaign at Shenandoah, to General Pickett's famous charge at Gettysburg, to the Union's triumph at Appo-mattox Court House, Fields of Fury details the war that helped shape us as a nation.
Also included are personal anecdotes from the soldiers at the battlefront and the civilians at home, as well as profiles of historical luminaries such as Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Ulysses S. Grant. McPherson also explores the varied roles that women played during the war, healthcare on the battlefield, and the demise of slavery.
McPherson's narrative is highlighted with black-and-white photographs taken by Civil War photographers Mathew Brady and Timothy O'Sullivan, period oil paintings, and key campaign and battlefield maps, that make Fields of Fury the consummate book on the American Civil War for kids.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Pulitzer Prize–winning author and acclaimed historian James M. McPherson recounts "the greatest armed struggle on United States soil" in this stunning, informative work aimed at young history buffs.

From its origins in the fight against slavery to the Reconstruction period that followed the Union's victory, the American Civil War is engagingly portrayed in detailed chapters, era photographs, illustrations, period newspaper features, maps, and more. Chapters are themed according to battles, important people, and major issues, with each featuring dramatic full-page photos and other illustrations, along with helpful Quick Facts boxes. McPherson has also provided a marvelous introduction that speaks to the Civil War's impact on the country and himself. Rounding out the book are a glossary, bibliography, web site guide, index, and endpaper timelines.

Remarkable in scope and handsome in design, Fields of Fury is a first-rate source of information. Young readers looking for facts and perspective on the Civil War will have no trouble navigating the large format and easy-to-find features, while parents and educators will appreciate the quality and care the author and publisher have put into this work. Excellent for school reports or history discussions, McPherson's authoritative guide is one of the best Civil War books for young people out there. Matt Warner

Children's Literature
For many of us the basic information about the Civil War was learned in school. A few of the major leaders (Lincoln, Grant, Sherman and Lee) are recognizable but the actual scope of the war—loss of life, destruction and battles seems to be a subject left to Civil War buffs, enthusiasts and reenactors. McPherson has provided a close look at the major engagements. To give an even better understanding there is a quick fact box as well as diagrams, photographs and reproductions of paintings to present the people and the true horrors of this bloody war. As I read the book, the incompetence of many of the military leaders really struck me, as well as the active role that President Lincoln took trying to get the right leaders for the Union Army. It is really something to read about the reluctance of some of the generals to engage in battle or the decisions that some made that resulted in horrendous casualties. Sherman and Grant may not be well liked in the South, but at least they seemed to be able to engage the "enemy" and bring this costly war to its conclusion. This book will illuminate the military battles for those not versed in the Civil War, and it also discusses the role of women on the home front, as soldiers and as caregivers. Fascinating and educational. 2002, Simon & Schuster,
— Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A distinguished historian has used his formidable talents to produce a concise, accessible, and appealing history in an attractive format. In 41 well-written one or two page chapters, McPherson summarizes the major facts of the war and relates anecdotes that bring to life the conflict's participants, from the commanders in chief to the soldiers on the front lines. Interspersed with accounts of the principal battles are discussions of other important issues, such as slavery, how the war was financed, the roles of African Americans and women, life on the home front, treatment of prisoners of war, and the effects of Reconstruction. Each chapter contains a sidebar of "quick facts," and the book as a whole is enhanced by a profusion of illustrations, many full page, including vintage black-and-white photographs and drawings, period oil paintings in full color, and color maps depicting the locations of campaigns and battlefields. A good pick for researchers and browsers alike.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two percent of the whole population-620,000 soldiers-died in the Civil War. This is almost the number killed in all other wars America has fought, from the Revolution through Vietnam; at the same percentage, the number of Americans killed in a war today would be five and a half million. It was a war that changed America in many ways. It ended slavery, it preserved the union as indivisible, and it continued the process of making America a land of "liberty for all." Five generations later, the war is still fascinating. An estimated 50,000 books have been written about it, many movies made, and Civil War reenactments continue in popularity. Yet there is always a need for another good overview and this fills that need. McPherson, one of the leading Civil War historians, pens an excellent introduction. Focusing mostly on the battles, the volume includes black-and-white photographs by Mathew Brady and Timothy O'Sullivan, period oil paintings, maps, and numerous sidebars with additional "Quick Facts." Most topics are given a one-page treatment, and this-though sometimes limiting-is part of the volume's great appeal: brief, well-written accounts of battles, key people, and issues. The maps are well done, as is the inclusion of soldiers' letters. The bibliography includes mostly books for adults, so it is not useful in guiding young enthusiasts to further age-appropriate books. A thoughtfully and clearly constructed offering that will appeal to history buffs young and old and a must for any Civil War history collection. (glossary, bibliography, Web sites, index) (Nonfiction. 9+)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.30(d)
IG970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Meet the Author

James M. McPherson, PhD, an American history expert and one of the most distinguished historians of our time, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. His other bestselling books include For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War, What They Fought For, 1861-1865; Gettysburg: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution; and Fields of Fury. An active preservationist, he has served on the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission since 1991. Dr. McPherson was named the Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities for 2000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A professor at Princeton University, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Brief Biography

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

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