War Comes Again: Comparative Vistas on the Civil War and World War II / Edition 1

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The Civil War and the World War II stand as the two great cataclysms of American history. They were our two costliest wars, with well over a million casualties suffered in each. And they were transforming moments in our history as well, times when the life of the nation and the great experiment in democracy—government of the people, by the people, for the people—seemed to hang in the balance. Now, in War Comes Again, eleven eminent historians—including three Pulitzer Prize winners, all veterans of the Second World War—offer an illuminating comparison of these two epic events in our national life.
The range of essays here is remarkable, the level of insight consistently high, and the quality of the writing is superb. For instance, Stephen Ambrose, the bestselling author of D-Day, June 6th, 1944, offers an intriguing comparison of the two great military leaders of each war—Grant and Eisenhower. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Robert V. Bruce takes a revealing look at the events that foreshadowed the two wars. Gerald Linderman, author of Embattled Courage, examines the two wars from the point of view of the combat soldier. And Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., describes how both Lincoln and FDR went around strict observance of the Constitution in order to preserve the Constitution. There is, in addition, a fascinating discussion of the crucial role played by spying during the two wars, by Peter Maslowski; a look at the diplomacy of Lincoln and Roosevelt, by Howard Jones; and essays on the impact of the wars on women and on African Americans, by D'Ann Campbell, Richard Jensen, and Ira Berlin. In perhaps the most gripping piece in the book, Michael C.C. Adams offers an unflinching look at war's destructiveness, as he argues that the evils we associate with "bad wars" (such as Vietnam) are equally true of "good wars." And finally, in perhaps the most provocative essay in the book, Russell Weigley, one of America's most eminent military historians, maps the evolution of American attitudes toward war to our present belief that the only acceptable war is one that is short, inexpensive, and certain of victory. Would any great commander, Weigley asks, would a Lee or a Grant or a Marshall, refuse to fight unless he knew he couldn't lose? "Is not a willingness to run risks for the sake of cherished values and interests close to the heart of what defines greatness in a human being or in a nation?"
Another Pulitzer winner and World War II veteran, Don E. Fehrenbacher, concludes War Comes Again with a very personal look at two common soldiers who have no monuments, who have not been mentioned in previous histories, but who point at the essence of these two wars and are "embedded in the very structure of the enduring nation and the world we live in."

The Civil War and World War II stand as the two great cataclysms of American history. In this insightful exploration of these epic events, 11 eminent historians--including three Pulitzer prize winners--offer illuminating comparisons of the conflicts.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Civil War made America one nation. World War II made that nation a global power. Both had profound influence on the national character. Here, eleven notable historians compare the causes, conduct, and results of the two wars that Don Fehrenbacher calls 'along with the Revolution and the Constitutional founding, the major defining events in American history."
—Tom Wicker, former New York Times columnist and author, JFK and LBJ: The Influence of Power upon Politics and One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream

"This collection of essays on diverse topics provides an interesting commentary on the two most bloody and socially transformative events in American history....The authors are all-star history talents, but the lesser known are no less adroit in commanding their material....As interpretive views, this volume best sits atop expansive collections of America's most written-and read-about wars."—Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The provocative thesis of this work involves comparing two defining events of American history: the Civil War and WWII. Despite a distinguished list of contributors, the effort does not succeed. The conflicts were so dissimilar that essay after essay is able to do no more than juxtapose events as opposed to compare them. As examples, Gerald Lindeman's presentation of the experiences of combat highlights dissimilarities. The racial issues analyzed by Ira Berlin reflect only basic points of commonality. Direct comparisons between Grant and Eisenhower as generals (Stephen Ambrose) and Lincoln and Roosevelt as war presidents (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.) are more convincing but cannot salvage a project that, by its nature, was arguably impossible to execute. Illustrations. (May)
Gilbert Taylor
This collection of essays on diverse topics provides an interesting commentary on the two most bloody and socially transformative events in American history. Assembled by seasoned Civil War editor Boritt (e.g., "Lincoln, the War President", 1992), the 11 essays compare common issues in each war, such as the development of the doctrine of overwhelming force; Grant and Ike as supremos; the presidents' justifications for extra-constitutional actions; the moral content of each war with regard to race; and the less elevated plane of military intelligence and the shock of combat experience. The authors are all-star history talents (Stephen Ambrose and Arthur Schlesinger, for example), but the lesser known are no less adroit in commanding their material, such as when cultural historian Michael Adams compares how the remembrance of the wars tended to block out the misery they produced, a million combat casualties each. As interpretive views, this volume best sits atop expansive collections of America's most written-and read-about wars.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195088458
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/18/1995
  • Series: Gettysburg Lectures Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabor S. Boritt is Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and is Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. His books include Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream, Why the Confederacy Lost, and Lincoln's Generals.

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Table of Contents

1 Toward Sumter and Pearl: Comparing the Origins of the Civil War and World War II 3
2 Grant and Eisenhower 31
3 Military Intelligence: Unmasking Those Fearsome Apparitions 51
4 Battle in Two Wars: The Combat Soldier's Perspective 83
5 Gendering Two Wars 101
6 Fighting on Two Fronts: War and the Struggle for Racial Equality in Two Centuries 125
7 War and the Constitution: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt 143
8 To Preserve a Nation: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt as Wartime Diplomatists 167
9 Retelling the Tale: Wars in Common Memory 197
10 The Necessity of Force: The Civil War, World War II, and the American View of War 225
Epilogue: Two Casualties of War 245
Notes 249
For Further Reading: A Bibliography 267
Contributors 286
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