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Terrible Swift Sword (Volume 2) Mass Market Paperback – 1976

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 558 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (1976)
  • ISBN-10: 0671806521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671806521
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,440,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard M. Affleck on October 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nearly 40 years after it was first published, Catton's "Terrible Swift Sword", the second book of his Civil War Centennial history, remains fresh. As he would do in all three volumes, Catton deftly weaves together the military, political, and social aspects of the war in a fashion that is not only readable, but positively lyrical in his use of language. He is, IMHO, at his poetic best in descibing the seismic shift in war aims, from a conflict to restore the union to one waged for human freedom.
Ably assisted by the research of E.B. Long, Catton makes good use of a wide range of sources in covering the period of the war from First Bull Run to just before the tragedy at Fredericksburg. While he doesn't break any new ground (that wasn't his intent), he provides the reader with a sweeping narrative of this critical period in our most traumatic conflict. Catton's trilogy is one of the best places to start if one is seeking an introduction to the Civil War. Buy it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen VINE VOICE on July 16, 2002
Format: Unbound
"The Terrible Swift Sword" continues Bruce Catton's journey through the Civil in this, the middle book in his trilogy. Covering the period from the summer of 1861 through the fall of 1862, Catton leads the reader through the military, political and social aspects of the war.
Here we meet Charles Francis Adams, American Ambassador in London as he maneuvers to maintain British neutrality while British cloth industry manufacturers and laborers scream for Southern cotton.
The story of the Eastern front in this book is essentially the story of the McClellan era. The close relationship between McClellan and the Army of the Potomac was a unique and mutual exchange of devotion and affection.
In the Western theatre, the reader studies the battles of Shiloh and others which led to the gradual deterioration of the Confederate position in the Western states.
One enticing feature about Catton's books is his talent for weaving the political aspects of the war into the story. In this book we see the gradual shift of Union War aims from that of preservation of the Union to preservation with Emancipation.
The investigation of McClellan's role is fascinating. I always knew that McClellan was the Democratic nominee for President in 1864. Catton relates how McClellan was a conservative Democrat even before the war. Catton portrays McClellan as leader of the opposition to the administration with the army of the Potomac as his instrument of power. The relationship between the Army and its general forced decisions regarding McClellan's tenure to be made against the back drop of the possibility that McClellan could lead his Army on Washington in an effort to seize control of the government during the prevailing unrest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By HMS Warspite TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Terrible Swift Sword" is the second volume of Bruce Catton's classic Centennial History of the Civil War. First published in 1963, the series remains highly worthwhile despite the inevitable advances in scholarship, thanks to Catton's superb presentation of the history of the Civil War as dramatic literature.

Catton, a journalist and public official before becoming an historian, has a remarkable gift for capturing both the very human leaders trapped in the fog of war at the center of events and the grander themes that drove events.

Much of the story arc of "Terrible Swift Sword" centers around the career of George B. McClellan, brought in to lead the Union Army of the Potomac after the fiasco of First Bull Run. McClellan rebuilds the Army and infuses it with spirit, yet proves reluctant to use it in battle. After much prompting from Lincoln, McClellan will take the Army of the Potomac south to Hampton Roads, there to begin a cautious assualt on Richmond from the East. The campaign eventually stalls before Richmond and the counterattack of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The Army of the Potomac is ultimately withdrawn. McClellan will give way temporarily as senior Union General in the East to John Pope, who is promptly thrashed at Second Bull Run. McClellan returns to lead the Army of the Potomac to Antietnam in pursuit of Lee's Army. There, McClellan's lack of killer instinct allows Lee to escape with a tactical draw. McClellan's failure to use his superior numbers and position to destroy Lee or to pursue his battered army will finally take him out of the war.

Against the background of the toils of the Army of the Potomac are the steadily hardening attitudes toward the prosecution of the war.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Raymond H. Mullen VINE VOICE on February 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Just as Volumn 1, 'The Coming Fury' this is an amazing piece of work, Volumn 2, 'Terrible Swift Sword' that will capture you within its' pages. You will be taken through the escalation of the war. You will learn of the great as well as the poor decisions made by the governments of the Union as well as the Confederacy. You will learn just how close the war came to the involvment of the British government. This book ends around the last of the year 1862.

You will not be able to put it down and the only consolation to finishing this work is the fact that you can now start on Volumn 3, 'Never Call Retreat.'
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