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The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Library of America #212) Hardcover – February 3, 2011


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The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Library of America #212) + The Civil War: The Second Year Told By Those Who Lived It: (Library of America #221) + The Civil War: The Third Year Told by Those Who Lived It: (Library of America #234)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 840 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1ST edition (February 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598530887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598530889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Highly recommend to all students of American history.
Thomas Ayres
On the military front, we read Winfield Scott's message to General George McClellan, in which the commanding general, Scott, lays out his "Anaconda Plan."
Steven A. Peterson
This material helps greatly in understanding the text.
Robin Friedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. To commemorate the event, the Library of America has begun a four-volume series that will offer a year-by-year account of the war drawn from original sources. The first volume of the series has recently been published, covering roughly the first year of the conflict beginning in November, 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln, and concluding in January, 1862, when Lincoln replaced Simon Cameron as Secretary of War with Edwin Stanton. Brooks Simpson, Stephen Sears, and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, three distinguished Civil War scholars, selected the texts. They also prepared extensive supplemental information, including a detailed chronology of the war's first year, introductory headnotes for each textual entry, explanatory footnotes, biographies of the authors of each entry, and information on source material. This material helps greatly in understanding the text.

The 800-page volume is arranged in chronological order and covers virtually every important aspect of the war's first year from the perspectives of North and South. The entries are drawn from a broad range of sources, including legal documents, (such as Chief Justice Taney's decision in the habeaus corpus case, "Ex Parte Merriman" and the text of the First Confiscation Act) letters, speeches, military reports, nespaper articles, diaries, memoirs, and more. The book includes about 120 individual entries, many of which are substantial in length, by about 60 different authors. It covers military, political, diplomatic, economic, and personal issues resulting from the war as well as cultural responses -- poems by Melville and Whitman and songs such as "Let my People Go" and "John Brown's Body" are featured.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven A. Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a treasure this book is! It contains a series of documents of the Civil War's first year "by those who lived it."The inside front cover displays a map of the United States, with key battles from the first year underlined in red. Among them: Wilson's Creek, Belmont, Port Royal, Rich Mountain and, perhaps most famously, Bull Run. A Preface and Introduction set the table for what follows. As the Preface has it (Page xix): "Selections have been chosen for their historical significance, their literary quality, and their narrative energy, and are printed from the best available sources." But it is the documents themselves that are at the heart of this book. A few illustrations. . .

The first selection is an editorial from the Charleston Mercury, a southern newspaper. It asks the question "What shall the South Carolina legislature do?" To address what the editorial author sees as an effort to extinguish slavery, the words call out for (Page 1) ". . .the ball of revolution [to] be set in motion." The vehicle to address this? A state convention. That essay is followed immediately by notes from a meeting in Springfield Illinois, taken by Lincoln's secretary John Nicolay. At one point, just before the election, Lincoln says that he has tried to reassure the South on numerous occasions, but that it would be futile to continue providing such reassurances. At one point, the notes state that (Page 5): "Having told them all these things ten times already would they believe the eleventh declaration?"

On page 37, Sam Houston's response to a letter by prominent individuals to, in essence, start the process of Texas leaving the Union. Houston was opposed and this poignant response lays out his position.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Civil War Librarian on February 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Civil War: The First Year of The Conflict Told by Those Who Lived It Brooks Simpson, Stephen Sears, Sheehan-Dean Aaron (Editors), Library of America, chronology, notes, index, hardcover, 680 pages, $37.50.

An extraordinary collection of primary source writings and essential for Civil War enthusiasts. Nearly 125 selections span the first 14 months of the conflict, November 1860 through December 1861. Contributors include a Confederate surgeon describing the Battle of Belmont Missouri, a Federal 2nd lieutenant describing the Battle of Ball's Bluff Virginia, Sam Huston's anti-secession speech, Alex Stephen's Cornerstone speech to the Confederate Congress, Elizabeth Blair Lee's description of wartime Washington D.C, Sallie Brock's description of wartime inflation in Richmond, and a slave's recollection of the Federal capture of South Carolina's Sea Islands.

Battles, military intrigues, visits to both White Houses, life in wartime camps and cities are set forth in chronological order. The text is enhanced by both brief descriptions of author before the text and more extended descriptions at the rear of the book of the authors. The lack of illustrations and maps in no way detracts of the quality and achievements of the collection. American Civil enthusiasts, such as reenactors and educators, will be turning to this series in order to capture the war's witnesses' voices.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James D. Miller on February 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
One hundred and fifty years have passed. Thousands upon thousands of books have been, and continue to be, written. And yet interest in the American Civil War has never waned. As we approach the beginning of the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the war and its events it is easy to pull a book off the shelf by historians such as Brooks D. Simpson, or Stephen W. Sears, or Aaron Sheehan-Dean, and read through its pages and get an understanding of the war's history. Yet, as admirable as these author's works are, their readers are often at a remove, cast as silent observers, to the events about which they are reading. While reading these history books one can't help but wonder what it must have been like for those who lived through those four cataclysmic years of war.

To get a sense of what those war years must have been like it is imperative to read the first-hand accounts written by the people who lived through them. It is a more difficult task than what it may at first seem, as these documents, letters, diaries, memoirs are published in hundreds of books, and housed in archives all across the country. One could wear out his library card, or put many miles on the odometer of his car to find and read these touchstones of American History. Thankfully, due to the efforts of Brooks D, Simpson, Stephen W. Sears and Aaron Sheehan-Dean, editors of "The Civil War: The First Year Told By Those Who Lived It," we have a single volume that we can pull down from the bookshelf filled with primary source material.

Culled from thousands of documents, letters, diaries, speeches, military reports, newspaper articles and memoirs, the editors have included in their work the most literary and historically significant of those documents, and presented them in chronological order.
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