This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil Warby James M. McPherson, Barrett Whitener
The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the New York Times bestsellers Crossroads of Freedom and Tried by War, among many other award-winning books, James M. McPherson is America's preeminent Civil War historian. In this collection of provocative and illuminating essays, McPherson offers fresh insight into many of the enduring questions
The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the New York Times bestsellers Crossroads of Freedom and Tried by War, among many other award-winning books, James M. McPherson is America's preeminent Civil War historian. In this collection of provocative and illuminating essays, McPherson offers fresh insight into many of the enduring questions about one of the defining moments in our nation's history.
McPherson sheds light on topics large and small, from the average soldier's avid love of newspapers to the postwar creation of the mystique of a Lost Cause in the South. Readers will find insightful pieces on such intriguing figures as Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Jesse James, and William Tecumseh Sherman, and on such vital issues as Confederate military strategy, the failure of peace negotiations to end the war, and the realities and myths of the Confederacy. This Mighty Scourge includes several never-before-published essayspieces on General Robert E. Lee's goals in the Gettysburg campaign, on Lincoln and Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, and on Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief. All of the essays have been updated and revised to give the volume greater thematic coherence and continuity, so that it can be read in sequence as an interpretive history of the war and its meaning for America and the world.
Combining the finest scholarship with luminous prose, and packed with new information and fresh ideas, this book brings together the most recent thinking by the nation's leading authority on the Civil War.
"Non-fiction books, especially history, rarely earn praise as 'page-turners.' James M. McPherson makes the feat seem routine. A satisfying and insightful set of ruminations that will appeal to both specialists and general readers. Reading his book of essays might be no substitute for having attended his former seminars at Princeton University, but it might be as close a bookand most readerswill get to doing so."Christopher Phillips, Civil War Book Review
"In "This Mighty Scourge" a riveting collection of 16 masterfully written essays James M. McPherson again demonstrates that he is our greatest historian of the war...they stand as a remarkably elegant and clarifying narrative exploration of the most basic questions concerning the Civil War, issues over which scholars and activists still contend..."This Mighty Scourge," in fact, is an exemplary exercise in the contribution a great historian and eloquent writer can make to a people's understanding of themselves."The Los Angeles Times
"For readers unfamiliar with McPherson's work, [This Mighty Scourge] provides a useful introduction one that, it is to be hoped, will lead them to his masterwork, Battle Cry of Freedom (1988) and for those who know that work, it provides numerous interesting footnotes."Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
"It will seduce anyone, Civil War neophyte or fanatic, for its authority and judgments...There is not a bad chapter in this book. This Mighty Scourge is a marvelous read from a master historian. Like all good history, what it makes you want to do is know more."The Boston Globe
"One of the givens in American history is that we will always find new ways to look at the Civil War. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson reinforces that with THIS MIGHTY SCOURGE, a fascinating collection of essays on aspects of the War Between the States . . . Civil War a buffs will find THIS MIGHTY SCOURGE to be a first-class addition to the genre."St. Louis Times-Dispatch
"A smooth narrative that addresses some of the biggest questions of the Civil War: why did it start- why did the South lose- what motivated the men who fought on both sides- how do we evaluate the top leadersincluding Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses G. Grant McPherson goes about answering these and other questions in his usual graceful style, underscored by a thorough grasp of myriad primary and secondary sources on virtually every aspect of the conflict. He forthrightly expresses his opinions while backing them up with well-reasoned arguments, whether challenging the 'Lost Cause' argument about why the South lost, or supporting the proposition that it was slaveryand not states' rightsthat was the main cause of the war. This strong addition to the massive Civil War canon will appeal to all readers."Publishers Weekly
"This anthology is one of McPherson's finest works and will be warmly received by any Civil War reader."Army Magazine
"Brings a critical intelligence to central questions concerning the war."Kirkus Reviews
"These 16 essaysmany previously published in The New York Review of Books, all revised so that they form a coherent wholeask the big questions of the Civil War: Why was it fought? Why did the South lose? What was the wa's effect on those who lived through it? Addressing recent historiography, McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is both masterly and graceful."New York Times Book Review
- Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Unabridged, 1 MP3, 10 hours
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Meet the Author
James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He has published numerous volumes on the Civil War, including Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, which won the prestigious Lincoln Prize in 1998.
- 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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Noted Civil War historian James McPherson (his _Battle Cry of Freedom_ (1988) is probably the best general history) here provides sixteen short, detailed and readable essays in military history, social and political history, biography and historiography. McPherson critically examines the strategic successes and failures of both sides and the motives and character of leaders and of soldiers. He offers a new look at the Vicksburg campaign, compares Antietam to Shenandoah, looks critically at Lee's assessment of the Gettysburg campaign (Lee thought it largely a success), and asks what motivated soldiers to make repeated attacks that cost as much as 80 per cent casualties. Like British military historian John Keegan, McPherson finds some of his answers in the accounts people--soldiers and civilians--left behind: an ethic of duty, honor, and chivalric sacrifice played a large role, as did patriotism and, in the north, a rejection of slavery, a hatred of demoralizing newspaper editorializing. (There is more of this in McPherson, _What they Fought for_, New York, NY: Doubleday-Anchor, 1995.) McPherson also writes about Lincoln's use of presidential war powers to suspend habeas corpus and abolish slavery, Congressional and judicial endorsement of his conduct, and opposition denunciation. His historiographic essays include a critical examination of Lincoln biographies and a look at zealous revisionist Southern histories of the war. Besides Lincoln, who gets two essays to himself, persons whose personalities, character and careers are examined in some detail include Lee and Davis, Grant and Sherman, John Brown, Harriet Tubman and another less well-known fugitive, Harriet Jacobs, and Jesse James. This is a book that will please both the thoughtful general reader and the serious historian.