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George B. McClellan and Civil War History: In the Shadow of Grant and Sherman Paperback – September 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873389891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873389891
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A splendid contribution to Civil War historiography.... Chief among its numerous virtues, however, are the walls to comprehension it knocks down and the vistas it opens to long-obscured perceptions. Simply put, it will no longer be possible to view George B. McClellan in the same old, tired way." - Joseph L. Harsh, author of Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862, and Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862"

About the Author

Thomas J. Rowland is an instructor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. His articles have appeared in Civil War History, Catholic Historical Review, Eire-Ireland, and Journal of American Ethnic History.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Thomas J. Rowland set out to prove that, although George McClellan was not a great general, neither was he as bad as so many Civil War historians and writers have depicted him. I believe that he has succeeded. Having read Stephen Sears' classic biography on "Mac", I was certain that the definitive McClellan verdict was a fait accompli. How wrong I was! Historians T. Harry Williams, Kenneth P. Williams, and Bruce Catton were also cited for a less than even-handed assessment of McClellan. Still, one must add that Rowland did not maliciously criticize the intent of these historians. He merely pointed out that they needlessly made Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman--men who remain giants without anyone's help--larger than they should be, at McClellan's expense. After examining their records during the first two years of the war, each of these men showed less than a superlative level of performance, contrary to popular assumption. I think that Rowland's book is one of best buys I have ever made. A more superbly-written, well-argued, and illuminating book on George McClellan and his impact on the Civil War and its interpretation would be hard to find. It's great. Buy it!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. E Pofahl on June 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The author, Thomas J. Rowland, develops his thesis that General George McClellan has been unfairly characterized by both contemporaries and historians. The first half of the book discusses the common criticisms of McClellan. In Chapter 2 the so called psychological profile on McClellan is reviewed stating that "Of all the reasons why McClellan may have been a gravely flawed commander, the exploitation of the psychological model is the most flawed itself...." He notes that both Grant and Sherman "....trailed a significant baggage of personality deficiencies into the Civil War" observing that "If anyone came close to experiencing a psychic episode during the Civil War it was Sherman in Kentucky."
In the chapter discussing McClellan's lesser faults, the author notes that both Grant and Sherman had similar faults, but they weren't judged by these faults nor should McClellan's strategic abilities be evaluated by his peccadilloes. Acknowledging that McClellan played a major role in his poor working relations with Lincoln, the author notes that "....the president was not frank about how military goals were to be shaped by the political dimensions of the rebellion." In addition, Stanton's dislike of McClellan did not help in the commander's poor relationship with the president. However, the author does not imply that McClellan was faultless noting "....his failure to delegate authority and his obstinate secrecy" Another fault was his unwillingness to take risks. The greatest question is whether he made the best use of the Army of the Potomac. Rowland concludes that "In any comparison with other Civil War commanders, particularly those to whom he is unfavorably compared, McClellan's personal shortcomings were not that remarkable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Thomas J. Rowland set out to prove that, although George McClellan was not a great general, neither was he as bad as so many Civil War historians and writers have depicted him. I believe that he has succeeded. Having read Stephen Sears' classic biography on "Mac", I was certain that the definitive McClellan verdict was a fait accompli. How wrong I was! Historians T. Harry Williams, Kenneth P. Williams, and Bruce Catton were also cited for a less than even-handed assessment of McClellan. Still, one must add that Rowland did not maliciously criticize the intent of these historians. He merely pointed out that they needlessly made Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman--men who remain giants without anyone's help--larger than they should be, at McClellan's expense. After examining their records during the first two years of the war, each of these men showed less than a superlative level of performance, contrary to popular assumption. I think that Rowland's book is one of best buys I have ever made. A more superbly-written, well-argued, and illuminating book on George McClellan and his impact on the Civil War and its interpretation would be hard to find. It's great. Buy it!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Not only does the author restore a much needed sense of perspective to the historical treatment of McClellan, but he suggests a needed framework in which Civil War leadership in the North can be examined without falling into the "cliche" trap of "good general vs. bad general." If you want a refreshing view of familiar material -- this is the book to read!
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