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America's Civil War: The Operational Battlefield, 1861-1863 Hardcover – July 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Holden Reid (London, England) is professor of American history and military institutions and head of the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London. Since 1993, he has been a member of the Council of the Society for Army Historical Research and from 1998 to 2004 served as chairman. In 2004-2005, he was the first non-American to serve as a member of the Lincoln Prize jury panel, which awards the most important literary prize in the field of Civil War history. His many books include The Origins of the American Civil War and The Civil War and the Wars of the Nineteenth Century.

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Customer Reviews

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Some of the most perceptive work on the American Civil War has been written by non-Americans.
Robin Friedman
Frankly, who in his good senses could suggest that the overly cautious McClellan was ever a candidate to "wipe out" an enemy army.
Steven A. Peterson
When I bought this book, the sales clerk observed that this looked like a very technical book.
James W. Durney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When I bought this book, the sales clerk observed that this looked like a very technical book. She is correct; this is a book for students of the Civil War and military thought. It is not a general history of the war concentrating on what happened when. It is a book that concentrates on how things happened and why commanders let them happen. This is a book about operational planning or the lack of planning. Battles are incidental as the author talks about how the battle was planned and why this type of plan was selected. This gives an experienced student of the war much to consider. Not all of the author's ideas will be comfortable ones and a number of them will be unpopular with the reader. However, the author's basic premise and his development of ideas is intelligent and well thought out. I found that he makes reasonable arguments that are well supported.
The author is professor of American history and military institutions and head of the Department of War Studies at King's College, London. He brings a different view to "our war". This is not a difference in what happened or when it happened. Facts are facts and they are not in dispute. However, he has little or no investment in what Gary Gallagher calls America's traditional views of the war. This frees him to view both sides impartially recognizing their weakness and faults. He is unsparing in pointing these out. With this done, he shows how these faults and accepted doctrine contributed to the failure to follow up victory on the battlefield. This is much more than tired men, lack of supplies and the old running for your life or your lunch explanations. A second major area is seeing the American Civil War compared to the Napoleonic Wars.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Some of the most perceptive work on the American Civil War has been written by non-Americans. Among such scholars, Brian Holden Reid has an eminent place. Reid is professor of American history and military institutions and former head of the Department of War Studies at King's College, London. His extensive writings on the Civil War include a biography of Robert E. Lee (2005).

Reid's "America's Civil War: The Operational Battlefield 1861 -- 1863" is the second of a projected trilogy of the military history of the Civil War. The first volume "The Origins of the Civil War" appeared in 1996. The third volume will cover the final eighteen months of the conflict. But this volume stands on its own, as it covers the first two and one-half years of the Civil War beginning with secession and ending with the Battles of Missionary Ridge and Knoxville, Tennessee in late 1863.

Reid's detailed military history of the first half of the Civil War challenges some commonly held views about the war and which rehabilitates some views which recent writing on the war has discarded . Reid argues that Civil War studies have suffered in recent years from a post-Vietnam syndrome. The American experience in Vietnam has caused many people to doubt the usefulness of any kind of military operation to bring about a desirable result. Yet, the Civil War preserved the Union and ended slavery.The Vietnam syndrome, Reid argues, has also resulted in skepticism about the efficacy of military actions on the offense with a preference for defensive strategys which, allegedly, have less cost in human life. This syndrome has colored the way scholars have come to view the Civil War.

Reid's book may be difficult for those with little prior study of the Civil War.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By OzarkOrc on March 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is serious military intellectual history. It's a book to be studied, one chapter at a time, not an evening of Drum and Trumpet history.

Incredibly complete by a mature scholar in the field the book shows a sophisticate mastery of the sources. This book should help to change the way we think about how and why the American Civil War was fought.

Very highly recommended for students of the conflict. And helps to understnad the concept of Campaing Planning and "Operational Art", as distinguished from Grand Strategy. If I understand the book correctly, Civil War generals often had an "operational" concept, but failed to execute propery, as much a matter of the nature of the Armies and their (lack) of an articulated staff system as anything else. One of his favorite points is that "x" would have been a better (American Style) Staff Officer than commander.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
AMERICA'S CIVIL WAR: THE OPERATIONAL BATTLEFIELD, 1861-1863 could have been featured in our 'military shelf' section but is a recommended pick for any library strong in Civil War history and events, even though its focus is largely military in nature. It's a successor volume to his ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR published in 1996 and comes from a historian who examines in depth the military history of the first three years of the war - command decisions and tactics as well as ordinary soldier experience. Any library serious about analysis will find this a winner.
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