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America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries [Kindle Edition]

Edward L. Ayers
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Book Description

Edited by Edward L. Ayers, America’s War is an anthology of Civil War writing originally published between 1852 and 2008. Co-published by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, America’s War was created in support of a national reading and discussion program for libraries called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War.”

The selections in America’s War include works of historical fiction and interpretation, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biographies, and short stories. Together, these readings provide a glimpse of the vast sweep and profound breadth of Americans’ war among and against themselves, adding crucial voices to our understanding of the war and its meaning.

Editorial Reviews


"Published under the dual auspices of the American Library Association and the National Endowment for
the Humanities, this Civil War anthology of about 30 writings is intended for use in the 'Let's Talk about
It' library discussion program sponsored by ALA's Public Programs Office. Editor Ayers, a reputable
scholar in Civil War studies, categorizes his selections into several topics for participants to debate:
reaction to the secession crisis of 1860-61; the experience of war as exemplified by the 1862 Battle of
Shiloh; and the end of slavery. Ayers aptly chooses to illustrate political polarization, including Henry
David Thoreau's apologia for John Brown as well as speakers for and against Virginia's secession. For
Shiloh, he picks a mixture of memoir (Ulysses Grant) and fiction (Shelby Foote and Bobbie Ann Mason).
And to illustrate the emergence of emancipation as a Northern war aim, Ayers embeds Lincoln texts
among excerpts that concern the enlistment of black troops. Also containing a selection of contemporary
drawings, the work can indeed become a Civil War conversation starter for participating libraries." --Booklist

About the Author

Edward L. Ayers is President of the University of Richmond and the author of the Bancroft Prize winning In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859 1863.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1462 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Amer Library Assn (October 9, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005UG0KAO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,611 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
America's War is a collection of essays, documents, journal entries, and communiques regarding the Civil War, selected by one of America's most eminent historians, Edward Ayers. By selecting his source materials (not quite exclusively) from the time period itself (a decade or so before the Civil War, and through the Civil War), Ayers gives the reader a view of what was going on in the minds of Americans, both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line, with a shocking clarity that simply cannot be achieved by reading a contemporary scholar's well done analysis and subsequently published opinion. The difference between reading a well written book about the Civil War, and reading the original source documents provided by Ayers, though this may seem an unlikely stretch, is as profoundly different as the contrast between attending a lecture about travels in Antarctica, versus having been there yourself. Doubtful? Try it. Repeatedly, reading the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln (who tries to encourage the Negros to depart the U.S. for a South American colony), General McClellan (adored by his troops, ridiculed by his peers), Mark Twain (who was a Confederate soldier for a few weeks), Louisa May Alcott (a nurse in a civil war hospital, as well as the author of Little Women), Frederick Douglass (his phenomenally brilliant and deeply disturbing speech titled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"), the reader will think "Could this possibly be true? Why don't they teach this in our schools?" The answers, respectively, are "yes" and "I don't know, but they should".

My wife, a teacher of American history at the middle school level, moved away from textbooks toward primary sources some years back. I listened with about half an ear as she lauded this approach. I should have listened with both ears.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broader Picture of the Civil War September 26, 2012
By Clem G
I recently participated in a discussion of the Civil War at our local public library.

The book "America's War" was part of the material used in that discussion series. I found "America's War" edited by Dr. Edward Ayers to be an extremely interesting and useful part of the material used in that five session discussion. I have been interested in the Civil War for some time now, and have moved from an interest in the battles and generals, through the weapons technology, and into the political aspects and the impacts on the home fronts. It was in this latter phase that I found the information in "America's War" most informative.

Dr. Ayers' selections were contemporaneous to the Civil War era, for the most part. I am a fan of Dr. Gary Gallagher, a Civil War Professor from the University of Virginia who contributed to the essay. Dr. Gallagher's view, expressed in other writings, is that if you want to understand what people really thought at the time of an event, read what they wrote when the event was occurring. And read what they were reading. Dr. Ayers' selections gave me that opportunity. Not only did he include the famous speeches like the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, and Lincoln's First and Second Inaugural addresses, he included political speeches and personal diary entries that are nearly unknown to the non-academic reader.

The accounts of the Battle of Shiloh by the actual participants were extremely valuable in gaining an understanding of the battle from the viewpoint of the soldier to the top commanders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done. September 25, 2012
I read this book as a facilitator for a Civil War program that was held at Sacramento Public Library's Central Library in June 2012. Prior to reading it, I can honestly say that I had minimal interest in the Civil War - my views were probably a bit too linear; what's more, I've always been more interested in European History. However, Ayers' effort in selecting choice readings, in addition to his meaningful narrative, transformed my entire perspective on the war. From Mark Twain's skirmish, to excerpts of Foote's "Shiloh," to thoughtful perspectives on the fate of John Brown, to the European significance of the North's efforts at Antietam, I was transfixed. In short, the readings provided me with a window into the myriad meanings of the war, why it matters to today, and why it will always matter to Americans.

James Scott
Sacramento Public Library
Sacramento, California
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and wide-ranging source September 25, 2012
By Shelley
I was struck by something Ayers wrote in the introduction: "The American Civil War was not a single thing, a simple thing. It changed shape from the beginning to the end. The war's full significance, incomplete in 1865, continues to unfold all around us." Throughout the text Ayers provides insightful analysis and context for the many primary sources that reveal multiple perspectives on the war and its meaning to those who lived through it, and those who reflected back on the war's significance. I appreciated being able to read women's perspectives, as well as those from people not often heard (such as the 1865 petition from the "Colored Citizens of Nashville, TN"). Of course, the book also contains many traditional documents, such as Lincoln's speeches. I recommend this book for high school age and up, for people who love learning about this major event, and for people who may not realize how much they are intrigued by the Civil War until they read first-hand accounts of the war's intensity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Treatment of America's 'Irrepressible Conflict'
Ayers collection of writing and words by those who lived the Civil War is a superb treatment of this pivotal period in our history. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Margaret Carrel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great reading and study companion
Published 6 months ago by Brenda Shadrick
3.0 out of 5 stars This Book = Compiled Google Searches
Perhaps the price is paying for the time it took the author to pull these from the Internet and reorder them. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Apple Stoloc
5.0 out of 5 stars Civil War
I bought this book after taking a class about the American Civil War. The anthology provides an overview of the war from several points of view from primary sources.
Published 15 months ago by N. Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Great book with good depth of information from fresh perspectives. Enjoyable read as well. Studied book as part of civil war lecture series.
Published on December 24, 2012 by Thomas M Sisson
4.0 out of 5 stars America's War:Talking About The Civil War......
I expected a dry, boring book. Once into it, that notion was out the window. The angst that was rampade in that timeframe was obvious. Read more
Published on October 16, 2012 by Dallas
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful
Using this book in conjunction with a library association program on the U. S. Civil War. Although I am a long time student of this conflict this book is great for a group... Read more
Published on October 2, 2012 by P. Schmeelk
5.0 out of 5 stars America's War
I was honored to use this book for a discussion group on the Civil War. It worked VERY well and brought out some issues that the people in this group had not considered. Read more
Published on September 20, 2012 by Greg Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied voices and perspectives from the Civil War
Ayers did a remarkable job making selections for this anthology. The collection captures a range of ideas, voices and perspectives from the Civil War period. Read more
Published on September 20, 2012 by Matt
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