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The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe: or, How the Confederate Cruisers Were Equipped (Modern Library War) Paperback – June 12, 2001


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The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe: or, How the Confederate Cruisers Were Equipped (Modern Library War) + Memoirs of Service Afloat, During the War Between the States
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library War
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library paperback ed edition (June 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679640223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679640226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,950,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reissue of this classic Civil War memoir (first published in 1884) is welcome for its own sake, and for the light it sheds on a still-unfamiliar aspect of the conflict. Northern prosperity was widely regarded as heavily dependent on its merchant marine. The development of steam power gave Southern "commerce raiders" both strategic and tactical opportunities unknown in earlier eras; raiders could strike as they pleased, wreak havoc among sail-powered merchantmen and disappear before the Yankees could hope to react. A few ships, properly equipped, could have an impact far out of proportion to their numbers. Lacking the infrastructure to build them, the Confederacy turned to Europe. That brought James Bulloch to center stage. A man of wide experience in maritime affairs and a committed Southern patriot, he was given a free hand in 1861 to purchase and equip ships for the Confederate navy in Europe. Much of his effort involved working in shadows, cast in particular by a British government committed in public to neutrality, but harboring sympathy for the South. Representing a government with little in the way of credibility, Bulloch performed a solo high-wire act that still stands as a masterpiece of improvisational diplomacy. His virtuosity brought limited results. Negotiations evaporated. Deliveries were delayed. Only three of Bulloch's 19 ships had really successful careers. The rest achieved little 10 were never even delivered. Yet by March 1864, Union shipping had been virtually driven from the world's oceans. The rebel cruisers had done so much damage that a postwar international court ordered Britain to pay $15.5 million as compensation for its role in the Confederacy's commercial war. As an economy-of-force operation, it remains without parallel. And it comes to life again in Bulloch's dramatic narrative.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Jefferson Davis sent merchant marine James D. Bulloch to Europe to clandestinely acquire arms and ships for the Confederate navy. His first stop was Britain, a country hedging its bets on who would win the War Between the States and willing to secretly provide the Confederacy with the naval technology to fight the Union on the high seas. Bulloch's mission continued for the length of the war, and his story, told by the man himself, is one of the least-understood aspects of the Civil War, even today.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matt Buckner on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
When news of the firing upon Ft. Sumter by General P.G.T. Beauregard reached James Bulloch, he offered his services to the Confederate government at once. He was assigned by President Davis to build a navy on government account. This book is Bulloch's narrative of his experiences.
The strongest element of this book is that it sheds light on what would otherwise be very little known facts of the war. Bulloch's contacts with Stephen Mallory and other high ranking Confederates give rarely seen insights into the service he and his fellow agents performed. It is important to note that Bulloch's work is not about the sea exploits of the ships he contracted, but about the work that was done in making financial arrangements and fitting the ships for sea. The author goes into a great amount of detail in all the contracts that he undertook while in Europe. He also adds accounts of other agents when needed, but always stresses to the reader that those accounts are second hand.
The reviewer's main complaint with this work is that a large section is devoted to the Geneva Arbitration occurring after the war. Bulloch seems to be rather defensive in regard to U.S. complaints made against him. Although fairly readable, this section of the book is not really necessary for understanding Confederate operations and does not advance the narrative. Another small complaint is that Bulloch will sometimes tell the reader of key elements far in advance of the narrative time frame. This can be frustrating, as what would have been an exciting twist in the plot has been alluded to eighty pages beforehand.
Only the above mentioned flaws kept this book from a five-star rating. It is a readable account of Confederate operations in Europe and highly recommended for any person who wishes to further their knowledge of the aforementioned.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Woollard on April 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have just finished this volume and have found it to be one of the best-written books of all that I have ever read (I read Dickens's Bleak House several weeks ago and, though the story-telling is marvellous as always, the English, the grammar, the punctuation, even the spelling, leaves much to be desired); one of the most thorough histories I have ever read; and one of the most moving and patriotic stories I have ever read. And, leaving aside any bias which the author must have had, it is also a tear-jerking tale of what might so nearly have been for the Confederate States of America but for the perfidy of some Britons and some Americans. U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward comes out of it all with a thoroughly tarnished reputation, as does Britain's Foreign Secretary, Lord John Russell. James Dunwoody Bulloch was one of the great heroes of The Old South and a truly remarkable author!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph B. Jordan on May 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book takes us on a journey into an almost unknown side of the American Civil War. While historians have argued over which great land battle was the so called "high water mark of the Confederacy", the author makes it obvious that events taking place on the high seas and in the halls of European power had a greater impact on the outcome of America's bloodiest war.

The late historian Shelby Foote stated that you can't understand American history without understanding the Civil War. I would add that you can't understand the Civil War without understanding the naval and international aspects of that conflict. This book is the best on that subject.
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