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Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction Paperback – May 18, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1ST edition (May 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199843282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199843282
  • ASIN: 0199843287
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Guelzo has a masterful command of the intricate narrative of the Civil War period. His tale contains familiar stories, but also new insights." --Journal of American History


"Guelzo's book is a shining example of the virtues of the macro approach when it is undertaken with energy and efficiency. By panning out and reviewing the events that occurred over several decades, Guelzo offers a useful synthesis of the developing Civil War narrative..." - The New York Times


"It's hard to imagine a better one-volume history of the American Civil War than Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo's new work." - The Washington Times


"Guelzo's prose is graceful and erudite -indeed, almost poetic. His is as comfortable with military tpoics as he is with the political, social, and economic aspects of the war and its aftermath." --The Weekly Standard


"Allen C. Guelzo's new book should occupy the same position in the current Civil War sesquicentennial as Bruce Catton's books did 50 years ago during the war's centennial. Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War & Reconstruction deserves this prominence for Guelzo's thorough knowledge of the subject, his ability to draw fresh conclusion, and his exceptional writing skills." - The Saturday Evening Post


"This is an outstanding effort to recount and explain our greatest national trauma to general readers." - Booklist


"With his accustomed eloquence and erudition, Allen C. Guelzo has produced a grand and sweeping account of the Civil War, vividly depicting its events, its characters, and, most of all, the ideas that drove them. Fateful Lightning is destined to take its place alongside the classic narratives of the nation's greatest crisis." --Steven E. Woodworth, author of This Great Struggle: America's Civil War


"a splendidly-written narrative" -- Civil War Book Review


"Fateful Lightning is a splendid accomplishment." - David Frum, Daily Beast


About the Author


Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, both of which won the Lincoln Prize. His most recent books on Lincoln and the Civil War era are Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction.

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Customer Reviews

This book is well written and informative and attention focused read.
Richard Link
As a veteran reader of Civil War literature I would highly recommend "Fateful Lightning" for your 150th anniversary of the Civil War reading!
C. M Mills
Reading this book has only one importance by reaching the last page and that is so I can start it over again.
John Wesolowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War era at Gettysburg College. Dr. Guelzo has written a heaving shelf of well received books dealing with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. His new one volume history of the Civil War "Fateful Lightning" is a small print 536 hefty pages in the Oxford paperback edition. The book is illustrated with period drawings and contains a detailed bibliography which will whet the appetite of Civil War buffs & historians and general readers. The book is a scholarly master effort and is the best one volume history of the war since Dr. James McPherson's peerless "The Battle Cry of Freedom." A caveat: this book is NOT STRICTLY A MILITARY HISTORY OF THE WAR containing detailed accounts of battles! There are many such books as these. What Guelzo has done is look at America during this horrific time of civil war thorugh the eyes of a social historian. Guelzo examines in detail such issues as:
a. The plight of slavery and the divisive battles in Congress in pre-bellum American society to deal with this horrible and divisive "peculiar institution." Many pages are discussed to explaining the ramificationos the Missouri Compromise of 1820; the Compromise of 1850; the Kansas-Nebraska popular sovereignity Act of 1854 and the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision which stated that slaves were not citizens and owners did not have to relinquish their ownership of chattel servants. Leaders discussed in this time were Henry Clay; Daniel Webster and John Calhoun. Weak presidents were unable to deal with slavery; John Tyler; Franklin Pierce and the inept James Buchanan among others.
b. The role of women, native Americans, immigrants and African Americans are explored in depth.
c.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Ronald L. Paul on July 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is highly recommended for those who are generally familiar with the military history of the American Civil War. It explores, in some detail, the consequences of the war's impact on American society, both North and South. It adds another dimension to the understanding of the United State's greatest crisis.

This is not a military history of the Civil War. It is not about its great battles and military leaders, but rather it is a history of the causes of the war, its civilian leadership, its impact on ordinary people, how the soldier in the ranks was equipped, fed, led and died, ending with, a lucid discussion of the post war Reconstruction, its short term achievements and its ultimate failure. What did the war actually achieve, if anything? This book is a different slant on Civil War history, thus, the subtitle: ".........A New History of the Civil War.

Specific battles are discussed only in general terms related as to how their outcomes impacted policy both domestic and international. More emphasis is given to the details of the weapons used; fundamental battle tactics and how military units were raised, organized and equipped.

The dislocation of and the great change in the roles of the female population, particularly in the South, dramatically illustrate in part the war's impact on civilian populations. Wives of southern plantation owners, in the absence of males off to war, were thrust from the relative luxury of aristocratic plantation life to one of total responsibility of plantation management creating untold hardships. Violent riots occurred initiated by urban women in the south as a result of substantial food shortages, and in the North against the inequities of the military draft.

This work lucidly dissects post war Reconstruction.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. Parker on August 4, 2012
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I started reading Civil War history about a year ago -- I have some time to devote to this interest after semi-retiring. I had read several books of history and memoirs (including Grant's), but I still didn't have a clear view of the overall context and course of the War. So this book is just what I needed at the time. I learned a lot about the events that led to the war, and there is also information about Reconstruction that led me to order a book recommended by Guelzo: The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 by Kenneth M. Stampp. (I haven't read it yet.)

I recommend this book to those whose interest in the Civil War is sufficient to justify reading a work of this length.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By jim Dunne on August 11, 2012
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Many writers of history, even those who win Pulitizer Prizes, often provide a Niagara of details-- but give little, or often almost no explanation of how each new detail is connected to details in previous pages, or previous years. Midway in their books the reader has learned countless new details or small facts, but is struggling to connect the small moments and facts in history with other moments or facts so that the book makes sense to the reader(s)
President Lincoln's famous words, spoken on the steps of the Capitol Building, "And the war came" are without meaning without knowing the connections of those words with other facts which were the Prologue to the Civil War.
Allen C. Guelzo's splendid book, A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction is one of the best books I have read in a lifetime of reading because it provides facts and details and connects them with other moments in history and the new facts that were a part of those "other moments."
Jim Dunne
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