From the Publisher
"This new volume is a quick and fascinating introduction to the Civil War, touching on pertinent aspects of the conflict. The author covers the battles but also discusses, various social, economic, political, and other issues related to the period. Highly Recommended." Choice
"This is a well-written, interesting approach to Civil War history. It will interest those who have some knowledge and want to pursue inquiries on various aspects of particular battles or other subjects. It is recommended for those readers." Civil War News
"This title could work as a supplementary American history textbook for high school students or serve as personal reading for Civil War buffs." Library Journal
"Using a question-and-answer format, this information-filled volume offers a plethora of facts about the Civil War ... An inexpensive addition to the numerous Civil War books being published during the sesquicentennial." School Library Journal
"The author achieves a strong narrative flow. [He] is knowledgeable and judicious. Like the other Handy Answer Books, this entry on the Civil War is not specifically marketed to young adults, but is quite suitable for teens as well as for general readers." Voya Reviews
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Walter Hogan
This latest entry in the Handy Answer Book series proceeds chronologically through the major battles, personalities, and background issues of the U.S. Civil War. The author achieves a strong narrative flow despite the limitations imposed by the question-and-answer format of this series. In addition to lively coverage of the actual battles between the North and South (1861-1865), this Answer Book provides good social and political background on the roots of the conflict and on the consequences of the defeat of the Confederacy and emancipation of the slaves. Although this is not a scholarly resource (there are no footnotes, a very limited bibliography, and no suggestions for further reading), the author, who teaches history at a community college in Massachusetts, is knowledgeable and judicious. Like the other Handy Answer Books, this entry on the Civil War is not specifically marketed to young adults, but is quite suitable for teens as well as for general readers. Features include black-and-white illustrations, an introduction, a chronology, a brief bibliography, seven appendices, and an index. The appendices consist mainly of the texts of major speeches such as the Gettysburg Address, and documents such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment (ending slavery). The index is essential, given the question-and-answer series format, which breaks up the text into some 900 “answers.” Interesting biographical facts, amusing trivia, and frequent references to feature films and TV series on the Civil War enliven the text. Reviewer: Walter Hogan; Ages 11 to Adult.
Crompton's (history, Holyoke Community Coll.; The Raid on Harpers Ferry; The Boston Tea Party; and numerous YA books on historical topics) series entry covers a narrower subject matter than many titles in the "Handy" series (other titles address subjects such as math, philosophy, chemistry, etc.), and this reviewer has reservations about the choice of this format for a book on the American Civil War. The questions in this Q&A style title seem more like a guide to study than the types of general questions a young adult reader is apt to ask (e.g., "Why did it take so long for Americans to get around to a full-scale debate on slavery?" or "What was the first Confederate inaugural like?"). The material in the appendixes, such as the texts of Jefferson Davis's first inaugural address, Lincoln's second inaugural address, and a list of "Union Regiments That Suffered the Highest Percentage of Total Casualties," is unimpressive. The chronology and "Cast of Characters" might be helpful to users, however. VERDICT This title could work as a supplementary American history textbook for high school students or serve as personal reading for YA Civil War buffs, but it does not succeed as a reference book.—Rosanne Cordell, Northern Illinois Univ., DeKalb
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—Using a question-and-answer format, this information-filled volume offers a plethora of facts about the Civil War, beginning with the slavery debate of the 1850s and its impact on California's statehood. The text chronicles major topics, including the birth of the Republican Party, the emergence of Abraham Lincoln, the election of 1860, secession, generals, battles, social and economic conditions in the North and South, Lincoln's second inaugural address, Appomattox, the assassination of Lincoln and contemporary topics concerning reenactors, Civil War movies, and the war's place in modern memory. Responses to the numerous posed questions divide the information into short paragraphs. The highlight of the volume is the author's use of quotes from primary sources, such as newspapers and accounts from diarists and historians. Black-and-white photographs are scattered throughout, along with sidebars offering additional information to textual data. Though the title contains maps, some of them are quite small and difficult to use. There are also some errors: it should be noted that the famous Civil War-era photographer was Mathew Brady, not Thomas Brady; a photo is incorrectly captioned as the Lincoln Home; and the U.S. Grant papers total 31 volumes, not 11. An inexpensive addition to the numerous Civil War books being published during the sesquicentennial.—Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel
Read an Excerpt
What was Zouave Fever?
It was a fad, a craze, something that had almost never been seen before. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of Americans caught the fever for the Zouaves.
Dressed more like acrobats than soldiers, and performing drills that elicited deep-throated cheers, the Zouaves were para-military groups that formed all across the nation: North and South, East and West. All Zouave groups took their name and part of their identity from the French Foreign Legion, which had used special tactics to fight a group of Algerian tribesmen of that name. By 1859, the year Elmer Ellsowrth’s group toured, Americans were thrilled, even bowled over by the athletic young men that delighted in showing their tricks to audiences. One imagines that Ellsworth was completing a dream he had nursed in youth: a dream of glory, beauty, and above all, fun.
No one expected that Zouave Fever would lead to, or help along the Civil War. That is precisely what happened, however. When the recruitersNorth and Southwent into different cities and towns, they spoke of the glories of the military life, and thousands of boys and young menmany of whom had seen the Zouaves on paradewere quick to sign the rosters.
What was it about the b’hoys?
B’hoy was an imitation of the Irish speech in New York City, and Ellsworth wanted to create a Zouave Brigade composed entirely of New York City firemen. By imitating their speechat least on occasionand by inspiring them to join the Union cause, Ellsworth performed a great service for the North. He made military service fashionable.
On arriving in New York City, Ellsworth declared his intention to enlist 1,000 men. He had that number within a single day. The New York firemen were volunteers, aggressive men, and natural brawlers.
What did the British government have to say about secession and war?
Queen Victoria issued a statement in April 1861, declaring that England was happily at peace with all “Sovereigns, Powers, and States” and given that she was at peace with the United States, she enjoined her subjects to observe a “strict and impartial neutrality” in the American Civil War.
It is difficult to say precisely what the feeling was on the part of the English people. Historians, generally, believe that the upper class of England was somewhat favorable to the Confederacy, while its working class was distinctly favorable to the Union. It should be pointed out that the British laborer, in Manchester, Liverpool, or Leeds had more to gain from an alliance with the Confederacy than he had to lose with an alliance with the Union. Even so, the British working class generally remained sympathetic to the North throughout the war, a powerful testimony to the importance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
When did the New York Times go to a Sunday printing?
On Sunday, April 21, 1861. One day after the amazing Union flag day, on April 20, the Times became a seven-day-a-week newspaper, and it has never looked back.
What was the Baltimore riot of 1861?
Baltimore was known as one of the most contentious cities in the nation. Back in 1812, there had been a mob attack on a newspaper headquarters: one of the persons badly injured that day was Light Horse Harry Lee, father of Robert E. But things were much worse in 1861, thanks to Baltimore’s position as the northernmost of all southern places, and the southernmost of all northern ones.
On April 19, 1861, which just happened to be the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Sixth Regiment of volunteers was attacked by a crowd as it changed trains in Baltimore. Three soldiers were killed, as were several civilians, and there was an undetermined number of wounded. The Massachusetts Sixth made it through to Washington D.C., to Abraham Lincoln’s great relief, but it was more apparent than ever that the national capital was imperiled by the proximity of Maryland in general and Baltimore in specific.
When did the Old Dominion make its first move?
On April 17, 1861, the Virginia convention voted to secede from the Union, making Virginia the eighth state to join the Confederacy.