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24 Reviews
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No maps but still well worth picking up
If you have read David Detzer's book Allegiance then you are already familiar with his wonderful writing style. Detzer is really a talented writer and Donnybrook definately lives up to his previous works. It's well researched and well written.

One of the nice things about Detzer's work here is that like with Allegiance, it's not just the story of the Xs and Os...
Published on October 13, 2004 by B. Morris

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like A Martini with No Olive
This is just an excellent telling of the first battle of Manassas. The facts are accurate and the sequence of events is near perfect. Mr. Detzer clearly explains the positions of both armies throughout the book. BUT THE BOOK HAS NO MAPS. This makes it nearly impossible to relate to the author's information. How a book this good could not have maps is an author's and...
Published on March 2, 2006 by Civil War Buff


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, this book is lacking in a number of areas, July 22, 2008
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This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
I had high hopes for this book as Detzer did a fine job with Allegiance on Fort Sumter. I feel somewhat disapppointed with Donnybook though for the following reasons:
1. The author interjects too much of his personal opinion into key episodse of the battle, rather than let the facts speak for themselves. I hate to say it but I almost detected a anti-Southern bias in some of what he relates. This was epecially so in his treatment of Stonewall Jackson's acquisition of his famed nickname. See Robertson's Jackson biography for the best account of what General Bee said about Jackson, with all the various sides of the argument covered. Also Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants covers this in a very good appendix.
2. As other reviewers have noted, the maps are terribly deficient, with the topo maps from the National Archives being far too small and crowded in what they are trying to convey to be of any use to the careful reader. This book should therefore be read with the either Osprey book on First Manassas close at hand or the one from John Hennessy, mentioned below.
3. To exacerbate the deficient map problem, the author's description of complex battlefield action bogs down in detail and lost this reader.
4. The footnotes are crowded. The author uses these sporadically and thus groups a number of sources cited under one numerical entry that span not just one but a number of paragraphs. This makes it difficult to check quickly and exactly where his research comes from. This, along with the poor maps, makes for a very muddled sitution, sort of like parts of the battle itself!

On the plus side, some very good observatons, especially in pointing out the differences in the battlefield then vs. now aa well as the terrible confusion that existed on Henry Hill, thus rendering definitive judgments difficult. He also does a good job infusing personal accounts into the narrative and giving the reader at least some sense of what the battle was like (given the horrible nature of war, no author can ever be expected to truly achieve that for those of us reading this book in a comfortable chair.) Anyone wanting to read as much as they can on Manassas should not neglect this book. A better alternative for those who are feeling "map deprived" exists if you purchase John Hennessy's First Manassas: An End to Innocence. It works better as a history as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book except . . ., December 7, 2013
A great book except . . . for the maps. The only maps in the hard back edition I have are the endpapers( which resemble something you might see in a contemporary Harpers Weekly) and a tiny, hard to see terrain map in the photo section. The terrain and events of the battle are confusing enough(which the author stresses) without relying on such poor graphics. I relied on the battle maps from the Civil War Trust website.
That over with, this is an excellent account not only of a very confusing battle, but of also the whole experience of Civil War warfare. It delves deeply into the experience tens of thousands of men trying to turn themselves into an army(actually armies) and trying to deal with complexities of Nineteenth Century warfare. In many ways it reminds me of Victor David Hanson's The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, except for the Civil War.
All in all I look for Detzer's future books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the battle of Bull Run, March 4, 2012
This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
Not a whole lot is out there on the Battle of Bull Run. Let's face it compared to other battles fought later it's relatively minor. Donnybrook gives an excellent, concise and easy to read view of the battle. The narrative was exciting and fun to read. Some of his descriptions for instance one in which the author describes the Union army looking like a sea of glowing plankton moving in the dark was really good! Some people mention the lack of maps. I agree with that. Bull Run battlefield isn't very big so a few maps maybe on the movement, deployment and action would make this a five star book I think. Check it out. Join Sherman, Jackson and a variety of man in funny uniforms( it was the early days of the war) and learn about the battle that started it all.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agreed, no maps but..., July 17, 2006
This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
the writing style is superb. Consult the West Point Atlas if maps are needed. I was initially put off by the lack of maps, but after a few pages I was quite engrossed. Detzer is the Hemingway of contemporary Civil War history. There are plenty of military theorists out there, and lots of pseudo-military theorists. Sounding like a US Army War College staffer seems to be the trend these days. Detzer has a unique, and cogent style: he's a worthy successor to Shelby Foote, maybe--perish the thought--even better!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb--Highest Praise, December 3, 2009
By 
Chris Johnson (Northern Virginia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
This book is excellent in every way: comprehensive, well-written and well-researched, aspects which do not always accompany each other. The author explains fundamentals in such a way that non-Civil War buffs can understand, but still conveys the more technical and detailed information that enthusiasts demand. I cannot recommend this book too highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Account of First Manassas, March 20, 2012
This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
A highly readable narrative of the Battle of First Manassas. Detzer provides an abundance of background information beneficial in understanding how the armies came to fight at Manassas, in addition to a clear explanation of the actual battle itself. Especially helpful, particularly to a reader who might be a novice to civil war literature are the author's explanations of 18th century military terms, details of weaponry, and tactical organizations. The only minor criticism I have is the maps, the maps are all placed together whereas, my personal preference, is that they be placed as nearly adjacent to the text describing the action involved as possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful look at the first major engagement of the Civil War, June 13, 2009
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This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
David Detzer brings an excellent finale to his three book series on the start of the civil war. While not a revealing story of little known events like the first two he provides a different take on the battle of Bull Run. Details of the battle are given within this book but it is not your typical civil war book and the lack of maps is more intentional since it really is about the political fallout and what the military on both sides learned from their encounter. From the defeat of the Union and the retreat to Washington and the rising of Civil War legends like "Stonewall" there is a little something about every side in this book. There is not an inherent bias and what is nice is the coverage of peripheral armies such as those stationed in the Shenandoah, Western Virginia and Harpers Ferry showing their impact on the battle. It is a complete overview and for those who are starting out on civil war history it is a great first book to read. For the more advanced reader of civil war history there is also plenty to gleam since the coverage goes into many areas not looked at as comprehensively by other books. Very highly recommend to those interested in this era of US History.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent battle study, October 21, 2005
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This review is from: Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 (Paperback)
Donnybrook is a well-written fast-paced account of the tumultuous battle of Bull Run. Despite the lack of detailed maps, it was easy to follow the campaign leading up the battle and the struggle itself. Detzer did an excellent job of portraying the chaos of the first major Civil War battle, something no antiseptic map could. Detzer also notably debunks some of the legends behind the battle, without attempting a full-scale revision. There were a couple minor errors in the book, like listing Republican political manager Thurlow Weed as mayor of New York City. Also some of the more interesting anecdotes did not seem to be cited in the back of the book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Along With Edwin Bearss' Maps, February 27, 2005
By 
TomG "CW Junkie" (Falls Church, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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Many details in book which should be combined with

"First Manassas Battlefield Map Study" by Edwin C Bearss

on sale at Amazon for $30 (map study book and maps).

Combine the two and you've got a real winner!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slanted views, January 24, 2006
Good details but a challenging read without the maps for ready reference. Unit and battlefield movement are difficult to follow and the antique map within the book is difficult to read easily so as to be useless in tracking the action of the story. Commend the author on the research for specifics behind actions on both Blue and Gray units. Suggest that the distain for the Southern side is a bit too obvious and this discolors the author's objectivity as a story teller of this event. Even to the casual observer, the incompetence of both sides with this battle is obvious. To paint the South in general and the Confederates in particular as a group of buffoons is to waste the reader's time if the objective is to understand what the motivations and dynamics of the battle were.
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Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861
Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 by David Detzer (Paperback - September 5, 2005)
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