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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"The cycle of interest in the Civil War has come around again," claims Robert Cowley in the introduction to With My Face to the Enemy, his lavish new anthology of essays on that pivotal conflict. Whether you are a seasoned expert or a curious novice, Cowley's addition to the canon of Civil War literature is a must-read. Drawing together eminent historians and leading writers, Cowley has assembled a book that captures both the evocative personalities and grand themes of this costly epoch in American history.
Organized into six sections, With My Face to the Enemy paints a broad portrait of the war. Gary Gallagher's essay on Lee's improbably meteoric rise to command shows how quickly fortunes changed, while Stephen Sears's account of the scapegoating of Union general Charles P. Stone reveals how politics affected the organization of the military. For readers interested in the mechanics of warfare, Joseph Alexander exhaustively examines how a hidden dip in the landscape ensured the South's victory at Fredericksburg, while New York Times correspondent Tom Wicker contributes one of the collection's best pieces: a riveting re-creation of the Battle of Stones River, a bloody engagement fought just a few days after the soldiers' holiday vacation.
In the end, although heavy hitters such as James M. McPherson and David Herbert Donald lend this book historical gravitas, it is the whimsical pieces -- such as Sears's essay on General Lee's order 191, a crucial piece of intelligence found wrapped around a cigar by a Union solider -- that make this book so beguiling and rich. (John Freeman)
John Freeman lives in New York City.