This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

by James M. McPherson
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This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War by James M. McPherson

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 essays—pieces 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195392425
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/12/2009
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 390,311
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About 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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This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ACWB More than 1 year ago
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.