Why the South Lost the Civil War

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Overview

In this widely heralded book first published in 1986, four historians consider the popularly held explanations for southern defeat—state-rights disputes, inadequate military supply and strategy, and the Union blockade—undergirding their discussion with a chronological account of the war's progress. In the end, the authors find that the South lacked the will to win, that weak Confederate nationalism and the strength of a peculiar brand of evangelical Protestantism sapped the South's ability to continue a war that was not yet lost on the field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[The authors] show that the Southern states were not united around a single leader or cause. . . . In the end, they discovered that God did not wear gray."—New York Times

"The most comprehensive, sophisticated, and well-informed [book on this subject] I have ever read."—New York Review of Books

"Should be required reading for anyone interested in the Confederate experiment. Its superb analysis of the previous literature, including respectful disagreement with many of the conclusions of Owsley, McWhiney, Jamieson and other prominent historians, makes it an ideal starting point for any discussion of Confederate defeat."—Dallas Times-Herald

Library Journal
According to the authors, the South lost the Civil War because Southern nationalism was weak, indeed almost nonexistent. Previously, many reasons have been cited for Confederate collapse, such as states rights squabbles, the Union's naval blockade, economic weaknesses, and inadequate military leadership. The authors make interesting but not always convincing counterarguments, concluding that states rights actually helped the Confederacy, the naval blockade was ineffective, the South's economy kept its armies supplied, and military leadership was about equal on both sides. While refuting views of several historians, including those in Why the North Won the Civil War, edited by David Donald (1960), the essays here are, overall, not as persuasive as in that book, though they are sure to renew the historical debate. Suitable mainly for university and large public libraries. History Book Club main selection. Joseph G. Dawson III, History Dept., Texas A&M Univ., College Station
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820313962
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1991
  • Series: Brown Thrasher Books Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 582
  • Sales rank: 1,111,736

Meet the Author

Richard E. Beringer is a professor of history at the University of North Dakota and the coeditor of a volume of The Papers of Jefferson Davis. Herman Hattaway is a professor of history at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the coauthor with Archer Jones of How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War. Archer Jones is emeritus professor of history and former dean at North Dakota State University. William N. Still Jr. is a professor of history at East Carolina University and the author of several books, including Odyssey in Gray: A Diary of Confederate Service, 1863-1865.

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