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Roll Call to Destiny: The Soldier's Eye View of Civil War Battles Hardcover – March 4, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786717475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786717477
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,563,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Military historian Nosworthy (The Bloody Crucible of Courage, The Anatomy of Victory), a specialist in combat tactics and weaponry, gets more personal in this book and offers a soldier's eye view of the Civil War. Focusing primarily on the on-the-ground experiences of Union and Confederate troops, Nosworthy sketches the roles of small units in a series of engagements, big and small, including a Union brigade's part in the first Battle of Bull Run, a New York regiment's role in the little-known battle at Fair Oaks and the cavalry engagements on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The heart of the book, relying heavily on soldiers' memoirs, diaries and unit histories, is readable and evocative. While the writing in the introduction and conclusion is a bit stilted, this book will doubtlessly appeal to Civil War enthusiasts.
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"Brent Nosworthy's book has much to recommend it. It is an interesting and highly informative story that should appeal to anyone interested in military history who wants to know more about the American Civil War... it is a worthy starting point for those interested in the real nature of how a battle was fought during the American Civil War." -- Military History Online

"[T]he author clearly knows his stuff, and Civil War buffs will have a ball." -- Kirkus Reviews

"The heart of the book, relying heavily on soldiers' memoirs, diaries and unit histories, is readable and evocative...this book will doubtlessly appeal to Civil War enthusiasts." -- Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
The book was clearly very well researched, and I found it very interesting.
The book contains a number of Tactical Observation sections that both help place the action and expand on the lessons learned and problems encountered.
James W. Durney
This is a book that should be of great interest and value to anyone seriously interested in the real nature of fighting during the American Civil War.
Bruce Trinque

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although in some ways Brent Nosworthy's new "Roll-Call to Destiny: The Soldier's Eye View of Civil War Battle" can be viewed as a companion to his previous, ground-breaking "The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War," fundamentally "Roll-Call to Destiny" is independent of that earlier volume, written from a quite different perspective. Thoroughly grounded in firsthand accounts, "Roll-Call to Destiny" provides a vivid examination of combat during the American Civil War: infantry, cavalry, and artillery (and even naval, or at least riverine, action), from the beginning of the war until nearly its end, both Eastern and Western theaters, Union and Confederate.

The focus is not principally upon the experiences of individual soldiers, but rather upon the activities of "small units" (usually, regiments or batteries, but also brigades or larger organizations, where appropriate) at several different battles, including First Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Missionary Ridge, but also lesser-known actions such as Arkansas Post and Darbytown Road. The author does not attempt to provide detailed accounts of the whole battles, but rather focuses upon one or more selected small units at those actions to illustrate numerous facets of Civil War warfare. He is particularly careful to link the theory and practice of such American combat to European military history and technical developments, showing how the American experience fit into a broader picture and that it is impossible to really understand the battlefields of 1861-65 without taking that broader picture into account. In several cases, the author challenges conventional wisdom and provides convincing new answers to old questions.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Civil War authors while knowable and good writers have special abilities that define their work. Stephen Sears brings battles to life on the written page. Steven Woodworth explains the inner workings of Confederate politics in a way that is fun to read. Eric Wittenberg captures the experience of the cavalry during the war. Gordon Rhea writes wonderful detailed accounts of the Overland Campaign's battles. Brent Nosworthy has the ability to personalize the experience of soldiering in the Civil War. This is his unique contribution to the history of the war and a major reason to read his books. He brings the techniques of soldiering and fighting onto the printed page in a way that makes the reader feel the experience. This ability produces an emotional and physical experience that can stay with you long after the book is completed. In the chapter on the Fifty-seventh New York at Fair Oaks, there is a section on marching in mud. Nosworthy conveys not only a description but creates a physical experience that places the reader in the mud trying to move forward toward battle. I have read many accounts of soldier's marching in the mud but none is the equal of this. The description will always be with me and whenever I read about mud and will help me understand what is happening.

Burnside's Fight: The Struggle for Matthews Hill is a fine description of how a Brigade acts in battle. This is a detailed account of what it takes to handle a Brigade keeping in mind the condition of your men and trying to counter action's of the enemy. While detailed, the account is never boring and places us next to the commander during the fight.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Roger Kennedy VINE VOICE on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book continues the research developed in Mr. Noseworthy's previous work on the Civil War "The Bloody crucible of Courage". The former book, an epic in its own right because of the ground breaking nature of analysis for evaluating Civil War combat and weapons' performance was largely theoretical in content. Here the author has drawn upon that same research to provide vivid descriptions of how Civil War combat was actually conducted, using the full array of tactics and weapons that were available at that time.

Here then the Civil War fan will find the action content of Mr. Noseworthy's earlier research. Breaking his book down to an introduction and six chapters, this takes a careful look at various tactical situations in the conflict. Well known actions like First Manassas and Gettysburg are mixed with lesser known fare. Even in the better known actions Mr. Noseworthy manages to bring out little known tactical aspects that have often escaped most descriptions of combat in this conflict.

Few books on the Civil War provide us an example to see how the troops actually fought, the formations they usually employed, and how the weapons performed in live-fire situations. Noseworthy has carefully drawn his comparisons to provide a rich example of different infantry vs. infantry, cavalry vs. cavalry and artillery vs. artillery combats. He also provides examples of how each arm fought against the others in a manner similar to what Keegan did in his famous "Face of Battle".

Civil War combat studies often get mired in excessive examples of what captain so and sos company did against major so and sos.
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