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Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 Hardcover – September 10, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press (September 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873386310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873386319
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a tour de force challenging much of the conventional wisdom, both pro- and anti-Lee. Mr. Harsh's signal contribution to understanding this campaign, and by extension to the war as a whole, is to transcend issues of personality--"Robert the Bold vs. George the Timid"--in order to focus on strategic considerations. -- The Washington Times, November 13, 1999

About the Author

Joseph L. Harsh is a professor and former chair of history at George Mason University in Virginia. He is founding president of the Northern Virginia Association of Historians.

Joseph L. Harsh is a professor and former chair of history at George Mason University. He is the author of Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862 (The Kent State University Press, 1998).

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Customer Reviews

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On balance very well researched and well argued.
Amazon Customer
This book takes a totally fresh look at the 1862 Maryland Campaign and the Confederate strategy.
The Big Bird
Dr. Harsh's research and analysis sets a new standard.
John Nicholas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Much praise has been heaped on Dr. Harsh for this defining work on the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Awards have rolled in - perhaps the setup for the Pulitzer Prize for his planned upcoming works on the Union Side of the first two years of the American Civil War in the eastern theatre. Certainly, Harsh's approach of - what did they know, when did they know it, what did they do with information? - represents a step forward in understanding this critical campaign. Perhaps this method is taken a little too far, perhaps the author is too contrarian, eager to dispel existing notions and overturn previous judgements, but that's the fun of it - great academic arguments will result. Harsh's academic method - he is currently Professor of History at George Mason University, a school that he originally lobbied to be called "The University of Northern Virginia" (non-ACW fanatics didn't get it) - is unquestioned. A critical, thorough survey has been conducted of available original source material as well as established secondary sources. All told, it is an amazing story. This work is the result of decades of labor on this subject (Harsh is a native of Hagerstown, MD). One of the great points to be made here is that Lee was human after all, he made some significant mis-judgements. If you didn't know it from other exposures to Dr. Harsh you couldn't deduce from this work that Harsh consider Lee to be one of our countries finest soldiers. Even the best have their bad days - or campaigns, in this case. This is an absolutely first rate work on one of the most important (Harsh obviously believes the most important) campaigns of the ACW. Unfortunately, because of its academic format and size, it will not reach wide audiences. For those willing to make the effort, they will be richly rewarded.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I agree with much the prior reviewers have said. Although I am not a Civil War buff, I found the book readable. I appreciate his methodology also. Harsh attempts to reconstruct the intelligence available to Lee when he made crucial decisions and to assess his decisions based on the moves he could have made given what he knew and in light of his strategic aims for the campaign. All historians should stick by this method. He also does a very creditable job in his attempt to ascertain what Lee knew. On balance very well researched and well argued. I especially enjoyed the end in which he places his argument within the context of existing historiography on the subject. One criticism I have relates to the maps, which is discussed in the review of one of Dr. Harsh's other books. I bought Landscape Turned Red as the result of reading Taken at the Flood. And the maps are much more helpful in that Sears's book. When you are dealing with a lot of different place names and different corps moving around, it makes the flow a lot easier.
(Disclaimer: I sat in on a few classes of Dr. Harsh's as an undergraduate).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By The Big Bird on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book takes a totally fresh look at the 1862 Maryland Campaign and the Confederate strategy. This is by far the best book I've read on the campaign, and there have been some good ones in the past 40 years (Murphin's Gleam of Bayonets and Sears' Landscape Turned Red, for example). The book is fascinating because the author exposes numerous myths about the campaign. I was impressed with the rigor and objectivity of his investigation and analysis. What I especially liked was his philosophy toward history set forth in the introduction, wherein he explains the dangers of relying too heavily on 20/20 hindsight. I was impressed that the author showed great fairness to General McClellan--judging his actions based solely on what he knew at the time, and what he had been ordered to accomplish. McClellan was far from perfect, but the relentless trashing he has taken from historians has alway struck me as excessive. The author, among other interesting assessments, points out that the Army of Northern Virginia was much larger than what we've always been told-- 75,500 troops rather than the 40,000-55,000 number that we've often heard. I highly recommend this book - the story is terrific and the footnotes alone are worth the price!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Scott Anderson VINE VOICE on January 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My kepi is off to Mr.Harsh. His latest work, dare I say, takes the place of Murfin's "The Gleam of Bayonets" The detail of troop movement is quite precise, and is followed up by sound research!
It's as if Harsh rode aside Lee as he spoke at length of his strategy, movements, and inner most thoughts, then Harsh carefully jotted them down and sent them off to the presses. The book is quite captivating, and pleasently lacks the usual focus on trivial matter. This book is truly the meat and potatoes of the "Maryland Campaign"
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Other histories of the critical 1862 Sharpsburg campaign pale in comparison to this masterwork. Nobody else's work---nobody---can come close to Harsh's study.
Do not miss this; it is the standard by which all studies of the Sharpsburg campaign must be measured.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joseph Harsh brings a very different but logical view to the Antietam Campaign in this book. This is NOT your first book on Antietam; you need to have an understanding of this critical event to really understand this book. In a very logical, systematic manner, we walk thru the campaign not as history but as the events take place. This approach puts the reader in the position of Lee or McClellan making decision with imperfect knowledge.

Starting with a full review of the CSA position after Pope's army escapes into the Washington forts to the return to Virginia on the 21st, the author display an astounding knowledge of this campaign. What he has to say about the Lee and McClellan will challenge many of the historical assumptions and make you think.

This is not an "easy read" BUT it is one that every student of the Civil War needs to read.
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