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A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas (The American Crisis Series, Book 7) Paperback – April 1, 2002

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0842028769 ISBN-10: 0842028765

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A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas (The American Crisis Series, Book 7) + And Keep Moving On: The Virginia Campaign, May-June 1864 (Great Campaigns of the Civil War)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Ethan Rafuse has produced the book to read on First Manassas. (John F. Marszalek, Mississippi State University)

Well written, judicious, and unfailingly interesting, A Single Grand Victory combines capable battle narrative with a firm grasp of the larger political context. Highly recommended. (Mark Grimsley, Ohio State University)

The author has given us a sophisticated and exciting narrative of First Manassas, the campaign and battle that foretold a long and costly war for the Union and the Confederacy. Every page is alive with the tension and chaos of Americans―leaders, citizens, and soldiers―grappling with the political, social, and military challenges of warfare on a large scale, and of a shocking brutality, that few had ever imagined. A Single Grand Victory is a superb addition to the American Crisis series. (T. Michael Parrish, past president, Society of Civil War Historians, Baylor University)

This book is an excellent overview of the battle that opened the Civil War and a good introduction to the war itself. It will appeal to a variety of readers. (LTC Clayton R. Newell, USA-Ret.)

Ethan Rafuse'e A Single Grand Victory presents a notable account of the Civil War's first real battle. As part of the American Crisis Series, this work ably moves the reader through the social and political perceptions of impending battle, the decision-making of both military organizations, as well as the tangled conflict itself in a short, erudite volume. Throughout, Rafuse makes good use of well-established secondary and published primary sources. He is to be commended particularly for strong introductory chapters, attempting to place the unfolding of this particular battle within the volatile context of the day. Moreover, his discussion of battle is always clear and direct, providing rich detail without losing its narrative energy. It is a satisfying read, well-tailored to its mission of providing a succinct volume suitable for the enthusiast, student and novice alike. (Military History Of The West)

About the Author

Ethan S. Rafuse is assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
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Product Details

  • Series: The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842028765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842028769
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am becoming a fan of this author after reading only two of his books. My reasons are simple; he is an excellent writer and makes a good case for each of his points. Rafuse takes the time to tell the reader what he hopes to accomplish and attains his objectives. Along the way, I am informed and each point is supported with references. His books on the 61-62 war years highlight the growing realization that this is not going to be a short glorious adventure. In bringing this point home, he keeps the reader within the attitudes of the time and increases our understanding of the events as they happened. "A Single Grand Victory" was part of the mythology of the Civil War and weighed heavily on the generals of both sides. The title is both their hope and fear. This caused some actions that seem stupid but are logical within this context.

In this short but well written book, we get a good campaign overview with an operational battle study. Well balanced we understand the problems both commanders face and how close the battle came to being a Union victory. The myth of taking Washington, pursuit of a defeated army is well cover with very logical reasons why they did/could not happen. My only objection is that the book lacks enough maps to keep the reader fully informed. This is a common problem, many publishers seem to think military history books do not needs maps.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CTS 2631 on February 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book I have read in the American Crisis Series, but it wont be my last. The same goes for author Ethan S. Rafuse, I will definately check out more Civil War titles by him.

The story is woven together in a short, well written, factual account that proves the books title " A Single Grand Victory" was all that both sides believed they needed to win the American Civil War. The author weaves "traditional" and "new" military history together seamlessly to give the reader a really good general understanding of the campaign and battle of First Manassas/Bull Run.

The Theater of Operations and Campaign maps were sufficient to get the reader to the banks of Bull Run without to much confusion. One map shows the initial Confederate positions along Bull Run on 18 July, 1861. This map, like all the battle maps is ok, but does not show the contours of the principal terrain features (Matthews Hill, Henry Hill, Chinn Ridge, etc.) that is always a great aid in allowing the reader to figure out why the troops and guns were positioned, and fought, where they did. Only four maps show the actual battle of 21 July, 1861, and this is not enough to show all the complicated movements, attacks, retreats, and couterattacks that make up this smaller, yet complicated, early Civil War battle.

What saves this book is good writing that does not bog the reader down in too much detail. That way the reader can follow the events as they unfold during the battle with the small number of maps provided. But only an overview of the combat is given. (For more detailed combat descriptions I recommend "The First Battle of Manassas" by John Hennessy, and for more and better maps "The Maps of First Bull Run" by Bradley M.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Sopher on July 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
First Manassas or First Bull Run was the first major land battle of the Civil War and therefore gave America its glimpse into what would come. Union commander Irvin McDowell, a soldier who was thrust into command without adequate preparation or planning, assembled an army that he knew was not ready. His overall handling of the northern troops at Bull Run can be considered as reasonable given the circumstances and the situation. Criticism of McDowell at Manassas should be taken for what its worth. McDowell did the best he could with what he had to work with.

A Single Grand Victory shows Abraham Lincoln's diligence to move against Manassas Junction while dealing with criticism from his military advisors. It also touches on the cultural context of the men who fought on these Virginia fields. Why men chose to fight and why they believed this battle would decide the fate of the war are answered by Rafuse.

Though books on First Manassas by John Hennessey and William C. Davis may be considered the standard for the campaign, Ethan Rafuse has added this compelling narrative with an incorporation of new military history to Civil War scholarship. Well written and researched, this short account of the struggle near Manassas Junction comes across as a fine read and shall put the battle not only in its historical perspective but also its political context. Rafuse certainly could be considered as one of the up and coming Civil War military historians of our time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on May 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an OK read. It starts out strong detailing how each side thought one victory would put them as the winner of the ultimate conflict. Then it brings up the generals of each side. Of course, that meant McDowell, Bearuguard, Johnson, Jackson, and Sherman. This is good insightful information about how people really thought one battle would end the conflict.

The book goes average in the details of the battle. This was a difficult battle to follow, with first the Union winning and then ultimately the South prevailing in this battle. An average reader might stumble on all the details in the battle sequence.

I liked this book and thought it shed a different view point of the battle. This was not the battle where the South showed muscle, and the Union fled. This was a hard battle where more mistakes by the Union cost them the win. Rafuse does a good job analyzing the prelude to the battle.
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