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The Confederate story (written in the 1920's)as told by Mr. Henry is an evident detailed work, with easy readability that makes the going seamless. This is a military literary work that starts with the shelling of Fort Sumter, and ends in early April of 1865 with the surrender of General Johnston to General Sherman. With every campaign talked about, there are regional illustrations so the reader can follow along quite easily (even me!). With these tellings he weaves interesting anecdotes; brothers fighting on opposite sides of the war, or my favorite: A union soldier stole across the Confederate lines dressed in civilian clothing to enjoy a night of dancing out "on the town" with the single ladies, to be back across to the Union side the next morning. The author accomplished quite successfully the "feeling" that permeated the war; from the exasperation of Washington with its generals to the long winter of 1864 - 1865, where Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was always hungry, at the point of starvation (often on 1/6 rations), and cold because of a lack of boots or shoes. Indecision; General Lee had a Union Army commission in which he took pride, but the loyalty to his home state of Virginia is what decided his allegiance after the beginning of the war. As claimed on its jacket, this IS a complete one volume history of the short lived life of The Confederate States of America. For anyone looking to expand their knowledge on this period, I'd recommend this book to be a good start.
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In his review dated 11 Apr 2000 -- wow, this is only the third review of this book and the second since that date! -- about how easy this book is to read. I have struggled so far through the first 200 pages of this book and find the writing style to be somewhat tedious and at times confusing.
However, in defense of the author, Ralph Selph Henry, who appears to be a Southern sympathizer in this book, his style was not that uncommon for many books I have read originally written in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Story Of The Confederacy was written in the 1920s and for whatever reason there are no pictures. There are some hard to follow maps but no pictures. There is the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and in the absence of pictures it seemed as though Mr. Henry felt compelled to write several thousand more words than necessary. Many authors of that era, I think, wrote history more in the mode of story telling and felt compelled to be more descriptive than many modern day authors. And maybe that is why this particular reader is not so enamored with his writing style. I personally felt he got off on tangents and was descriptive to the point of being distracting.
So why four stars? I am giving Mr. Henry the benefit of the doubt on his style of writing. I have also learned a lot from this book and have read material that I do not think I have read anywhere else about the Civil War. That is not just because he writes from a Southerner point of view. It is also because he has mention trivialities that when they all added up were not so trivial. For instance, he talks about the mistaken Southern belief that cotton was king and would be critical in persuading potential European allies. That much I already knew.Read more ›
best single volume of civil war history that i have yet found. a very complete presentation of the war in chronological order in all theaters. also serves as a great reference (nearly every battle in every theater is listed in appendix). extremely well written and filled with interesting anecdotes. the author apparently spoke with veterans (something contemporary authors cannot do). the author is not hesitant to present his opinion of issues, personalities, and decisions (custer, pinkerton, all the key generals and many officers). very easy and entertaining read for a history book.
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