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The Civil War in 50 Objects Hardcover – May 2, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (May 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670014637
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This excellent collection of 50 Civil War artifacts is accompanied by beautifully written and incisive essays by acclaimed historian Holzer. Timed for publication to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the book’s 50 artifacts have been well selected in an effort to emphasize the personal, human aspects of the conflict. The contents of a footlocker belonging to a Union officer are both informative and eerily intimate. A faded daguerreotype of an elderly slave seems to imbue him with both dignity and courage. A lithograph printed by the virulently anti-Lincoln New York World attempts to stoke fears of miscegenation during the 1864 political campaign. A letter written by a New Yorker who chose to fight for the Confederacy is both passionate and poignant, considering that he later gave his life for the cause. For both Civil War buffs and general readers, this collection should be a treasure. --Jay Freeman

About the Author

Harold Holzer has written or edited more than forty books on Lincoln and the Civil War era. He is currently a senior vice president at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society. He lives in New York City.

The New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City, and one of the country’s pre-eminent cultural institutions.

More About the Author

Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, serves as chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He has authored, coauthored, and edited forty-two books, including Emancipating Lincoln, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and three award-winning books for young readers: Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons, The President Is Shot!, and Abraham Lincoln, the Writer. His awards include the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
Very well written.
Alice J. Bellamy
This made it more like talking to someone of knowledge about the objects in question rather than just reading a description.
Ionia Martin
A fascinating book, and a must-read for any Civil War or American history buff.
bookfanatic1979

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Paul Carrier on May 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's been two years or so since "A History of the World in 100 Objects" hit the shelves. Neil MacGregor's book was a companion to a 100-part radio series produced by BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum.

Now comes "The Civil War in 50 Objects," by noted historian Harold Holzer. This book's scope is more limited. And there's no radio tie-in. But that's fine. Holzer's captivating account of the Civil War, which features short essays on more than four dozen paintings, weapons, documents and other period artifacts belonging to the New-York Historical Society, is a fascinating excursion that holds its own quite well.

The relics that provide the framework for Holzer's book range from the little-known, such as a prewar daguerreotype of a slave named Caesar, to the celebrated, such as Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's handwritten terms of surrender, addressed to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Some of the items are directly related to the conduct of the war; others are not. Some are military in nature; others, domestic or artistic. Holzer briefly examines each artifact and uses it as a springboard to explore larger, related aspects of the war.

"Not all the treasures presented on these pages constitute material that historians ordinarily call `important,'" Holzer says in the preface. The society's "most extraordinary Civil War items" are on display here, such as an original model of the famed ironclad, USS Monitor. But the book also contains what Holzer calls "personal and unusual relics," such as a newspaper created by Confederate prisoners of war.

Although the 50 topics appear roughly in chronological order, the book can be read by dipping into it, depending on the reader's interests.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ionia Martin TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this book, I thought it might be rather short and simple and mostly pictures. I was thrilled to see that I was wrong. The author offers a detailed explanation of each object, often relating the objects to other historical facts of the time period they came from.

I learned a lot of things from reading this that I had not been aware of before and I liked that the book had a somewhat conversational tone. This made it more like talking to someone of knowledge about the objects in question rather than just reading a description.

I think sometimes we forget the value of objects and the stories they can tell about our history and where we came from. This book is a reminder of those who came before us and what they left behind as a legacy for us to remember and teach our children.

This was interesting, compelling and overall just a very well written and thoughtful look back at the days before in our human history. I would recommend this to anyone that has a fascination with the Civil War, or history in general. One of my favourite books on the subject this year.

This review is based on a digital review copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.
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By MTM on April 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exceptionally well written and researched - a real find. Leads me to a better understanding of the Civil War period.
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By bookfanatic1979 on January 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating book, and a must-read for any Civil War or American history buff. My only complaint is that there’s nothing in the pictures to help the reader put the artifacts into perspective size-wise. Dimensions aren’t included in all the accompanying explanations and it’s hard to judge the size of some of the artifacts displayed just from the picture.
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By Frank Kohl on October 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is terrific. I love the detail and looking at the Civil War from a slightly different perspective.

The transaction itself was flawless. Everything was perfect.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I'd love to travel to NYC and see the museum, and the pieces described in Mr. Holzer's book, I'm afraid that, after twenty or so stories, I began to long for the end of the book. Yes, many of the short stories of the articles in the museum were fascinating. However, I began to get bored. Now maybe this was my fault, and not the fault of the author. But, I cannot say that this was a great read.
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