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A Stillness at Appomattox (Army of the Potomac, Vol. 3) Reissue Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0385044516
ISBN-10: 0385044518
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If every historian wrote like Bruce Catton, no one would read fiction. This marvelously well-told account of the final year of the Civil War marches readers from Wilderness, through Petersburg, and finally to the climax at Appomattox. The surrender scene, when Grant and Lee meet at last, is spine tingling. This is the third book of Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy. It's also the best of the bunch, even though the first two, Mr. Lincoln's Army and Glory Road, are both exceptional. Not to be missed. --John Miller

From the Publisher

When first published in 1953, Bruce Catton, our foremost Civil War historian was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in nonfiction. This final volume of The Army Of The Potomac trilogy relates the final year of the Civil War.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reissue edition (November 9, 1953)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385044518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385044516
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It would be an almost impossible task for anyone to figure out just how many books have been written dealing with the American Civil War. It would also be difficult to determine which Civil War historians are most often cited by their peers but there is no doubt that Bruce Catton would be near or more likely at the top of any such list. The reason for this is quite simply that Catton was one of the great historical writers of all time. Very few people can take their readers into the heart of an army, both those of it's soldiers and leaders like Catton and even fewer convey their story in the very clear and easy to read style that this author has mastered. To read this book of pure history is in many ways like reading a historical novel and even the reader who already has a firm grasp on the historical facts of this story will sometimes find themselves wondering what happens next.

This is the story of the last campaign of the Army of the Potomac, that Ill-fated army that had so often been humiliated by Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. This campaign was to be different however because there was a new man calling the shots and having a man like U. S. Grant at the helm made all of the difference in the world. It took Grant a while though to convince this often badly led army that he was any different than his predecessors. Different he was however and once he locked horns with Lee he wasn't going to let up until one army or the other was destroyed. In other words Grant understood what had to be done and he was determined to do it.

Catton's main field of study was this man Grant but one of the author's most endearing qualities is that he makes no effort to whitewash or hide his subject's faults.
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Format: Paperback
The Civil War will never lack for authors, both fiction and historical. Only a handful will leave a reader with an indellible impression. Among these few: Douglas Southall Freeman, Shelby Foote and James M. McPherson. Each has written outstanding works on the war: Freeman; R.E. Lee and Lee's Lieutenants, Foote; Shiloh and his magisterial three volume narrative and McPherson, his brilliant Battle Cry of Freedom.
Magnificent works all, but in a class by himself is Bruce Catton.
I recall my father raving about Catton; "When you read him, it's like you're there," he said. Unfortunately, I wasn't so quick to take his advice. Then, in 2000, I saw David McCullough on C-Span 2 and he raved about "A Stillness at Appomattox." Then, I decided to give it a try.
Lucky for me. I've read many accounts regarding the last agonizing year of the war, but none has matched Catton for sheer storytelling power. One marches with the Army of the Potomac as it seeks out Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. You witness and somehow, almost take part as these, the war's two military giants, Grant and Lee collide. You see the mistakes and agonize with the men yet, you always stand in awe of the everyday valor these heroes of the Blue and the Gray make. But despite battlefield blunders and poor leadership, draftees who are more likely to desert than face the enemy, the men of the Army of the Potomac never lose their faith in themselves and it is this spirit that drives the Army to ultimate victory.
Words fail me to describe how awesome this book is. I thought it would have aged badly, but it hasn't. It's truly a timeless work. This book, along with Mr. Lincoln's Army and Glory Road constitute the greatest tribute to the men of the Army of the Potomac and in a way, the Army of Northern Virginia as well.
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Format: Paperback
Bruce Catton's "A Stillness at Appomatox" was the first adult Civil War book I attempted after, many years ago, I was captivated by a series of Civil War stories geared to pre-teens. Since that time, I have continued to read about the Civil War and recently have recaptured something of my boyish fascination with the subject -- I hope at a more thoughtful level. I was reluctant to struggle with this particular book again because of the memory of my struggle with the book as a child. But I needed at last to go back to it to round out my reading of other works by Catton.

Catton's book tells the story of the Civil War in the East beginning in the winter of 1863 following the Battle of Gettysburg. The first thing to notice about the book is the clear, lyrical quality of the prose which somehow frustrated me as a child. Catton writes in a propulsive forward-moving style. He tends to like long sentences joined with series of "ands". This makes his account move quickly although sometimes a bit stringily. Also Catton has a gift for lyrical metaphors to drive home his points -- whether in describing the fields or in describing the emotions of the men. His writing at its best has a poetical, moving quality. Most importantly, Catton writes lucidly. His descriptions of the battles and of troop movements are relatively easy to follow. Many of the accounts I have read since I first tried this book are detailed and ponderous. This is never the case with Catton. He gives a good, basic picture of the battles he describes which will stand the reader looking for more detailed accounts in good stead.

Besides the quality of the writing, A Stillness at Appomattox is notable for the story it has to tell.
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