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Writing the Civil War : The Quest to Understand Paperback – October 1, 2000

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Paperback, October 1, 2000
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; New edition edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570033897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570033896
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The distinction of the editors is matched by the distinction of the contributors of the twelve essays in the volume; their names read like a roster of the current leading figures in the field."--Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

James M. McPherson is the author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1989, and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, the 1998 winner of the Lincoln Prize. He is the George Henry Davis Professor of American History at Princeton University and lives in Princeton.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Fry on April 1, 2001
"Writing the Civil War" is the best analysis of the historiography of the major topics researched by most Civil War scholars today. Every essay is written by a leader in the field of study covered in it. This allows the reader to look back from the leading edge of study. I found this book to be an excellent source for new ideas about how to look at the war, and its historiography, and hopefully it will improve my own writing on the Civil War.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. P. Procter Sr. VINE VOICE on June 16, 2007
Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand is a compilation of essays and is edited by James M. McPherson of Princeton University and William J. Cooper, Jr., of Louisiana State University. Prevalent throughout the book is the understanding that the Civil War caused a profound change in the government and people of the United States. Editors McPherson and Cooper's main objective is to present a variety of essays which discuss "...the history of writing the history of the Civil War." Four of the essays cover the war's military history, specifically the Union and Confederate strategy, battlefield tactics and the everyday life of the soldier. Further, there are writings about presidential leadership regarding Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; the political dimensions of Union and Confederate politics; and the issues that resulted in a Constitutional crisis. Finally, Writing the Civil War concludes with essays on the societal and economic impact of the war, the role of women, and the subject of slavery. The text is well researched with endnotes and a brief biography of each contributor.

The four introductory essays focus on the military histories and strategies of the Civil War. In Blueprint for Victory, the discussion begins with a determination of Union strategy on both a strategic and a tactical scale, concluding correctly the northern strategy evolved over the course of the war. Lincoln's primary concern as the war progressed was finding a general who could properly utilize the resources made available to him, "`...campaign actively, and serve dutifully within the political parameters that the government established.'" Background information is provided detailing how Lincoln finally chose General Ulysses S. Grant after the failures of Generals George McClellan and Henry Halleck.
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