In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863

Overview

Winner of the Bancroft Prize: Through a gripping narrative based on massive new research, a leading historian reshapes our understanding of the Civil War.
Our standard Civil War histories tell a reassuring story of the triumph, in an inevitable conflict, of the dynamic, free-labor North over the traditional, slave-based South, vindicating the freedom principles built into the nation's foundations.
But at the time, on the borderlands of ...

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In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1864

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Overview

Winner of the Bancroft Prize: Through a gripping narrative based on massive new research, a leading historian reshapes our understanding of the Civil War.
Our standard Civil War histories tell a reassuring story of the triumph, in an inevitable conflict, of the dynamic, free-labor North over the traditional, slave-based South, vindicating the freedom principles built into the nation's foundations.
But at the time, on the borderlands of Pennsylvania and Virginia, no one expected war, and no one knew how it would turn out. The one certainty was that any war between the states would be fought in their fields and streets.
Edward L. Ayers gives us a different Civil War, built on an intimate scale. He charts the descent into war in the Great Valley spanning Pennsylvania and Virginia. Connected by strong ties of every kind, including the tendrils of slavery, the people of this borderland sought alternatives to secession and war. When none remained, they took up war with startling intensity. As this book relays with a vivid immediacy, it came to their doorsteps in hunger, disease, and measureless death. Ayers's Civil War emerges from the lives of everyday people as well as those who helped shape history—John Brown and Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Jackson, and Lee. His story ends with the valley ravaged, Lincoln's support fragmenting, and Confederate forces massing for a battle at Gettysburg.

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Editorial Reviews

Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A movingly human chronicle [of]...the transformation by civil war of two groups of Americans.”
Ben Schwarz - Atlantic Monthly
“Gives readers a fuller picture than they'd obtain from a more conventional micro-history....engrossing.”
Gilbert Taylor - Booklist
“Ayers unfolds this historical process with penetrating analysis and relevant quotations, emphasizing the anxiety, excitement, and misery...the war provoked.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326017
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 471
  • Sales rank: 266,960
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward L. Ayers is President of the University of Richmond and Professor of History. His book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, won the Bancroft Prize in 2004.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi
List of Maps xv
Preface xvii
Part 1 Green Pastures and Still Waters - Fall 1859 to Fall 1860 1
Part 2 Paths of Righteousness - Winter 1860 to Summer 1861 93
Part 3 The Shadow of Death - Summer 1861 to Summer 1862 189
Part 4 The Presence of Mine Enemies - Fall 1862 to Summer 1863 277
Coda 416
Notes 419
Acknowledgments 455
Index 459
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