on May 14, 2008
This book deserves 5 stars for drawing together a large, diverse group of primary source documents, and related articles by noted historians. The book helps to explain why the North and the South were so far apart, before, during, and after the Civil War. If Michael Perman had written this book, instead of editing and commenting on the source documents, the rating would be lower, because the source documents are sometimes difficult to understand. However, this does not detract from the fact that Perman has done an outstanding job of presenting conflicting opinions. The documents make it obvious why the North and South were at the opposite end of many issues. After reading this book, you will have a better understanding of why the South seceded, why the Civil War started and lasted as long as it did, and why Reconstruction was both a success and a failure. You will understand why the South lost the war and won the peace.
I recommend this book as an adjunct to any study of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period. Even though it is not always easy to understand the primary source documents, Perman's editorial comments, in each chapter, are excellent summaries. They make it easy to understand the meat of the discussion in each document.
This is not light reading. Buy it if you want to truly understand all of the things they did not teach you in high school. For me, high school greatly simplified the period of US history from about 1800 to 1960. With this book, you can begin to understand why African Americans view this period as an African American holocaust, and why the North and South were so far apart that they hated each other for generations.
on March 16, 2008
This is a collection of original source documents and essays about the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Each chapter is devoted to one topic concerning the war and its aftermath. The chapters contain original source documents written by people who were living at the time, and are followed by essays written by historians that discuss the topic. Some of the essayists take opposing views, which encourage the reader to think through the issue himself and arrive at a conclusion.
Perhaps the most fascinating, thought-provoking essay in the 1991 edition examined how well-equipped the South was psychologically to fight the war, and how its psychology impacted the war's outcome.
This is a great study for those who have a basic knowledge of the Civil War, and want to plumb the topic to greater depths.
on April 29, 2008
Michael Perman successfully incorporates primary documents from throughout the Civil War & Reconstruction to allow readers to gain a better insight into the real causes and issues with the Civil War. The chapters are brilliantly divided and very easy to reference for information. From the beginning of the book, Perman and friends establish the similarities are differences between the North and the South to act as a baseline to understand interactions and decisions made throughout the era. I really enjoyed Perman's introductions to certain chapters and the way he allows characters from the time to tell the story from their individual perspectives. All in all, great resource, great primary documents and great book for teaching about the Civil War time period.
on May 8, 2008
Instead of the typical secondary source text, Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction allows the reader to get a true, inside viewpoint on the war but behind the scenes as well. It includes letters and documents from the time period as well as essays on all the different aspects of before, during and after the war. While it is sometimes difficult to follow the language of the time period it is worth the extra time for analysis to really be brought in on what was actually written and said over a century ago. Perman's book also offers both sides of conflicts, allowing both Union and Confederate voices. I would definitely use Major Problems in the United States history or Civil War classroom.