Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Informative Overview, September 10, 2012
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This review is from: Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (Paperback)
Having read much on the topic, I still found this a very compelling read.
Mr. Guelzo's greatest attribute as a writer is to tell an extended story that informs without loss of sweep; what was grueling and long-term, what was swift, of short duration and transforming all come across vividly.
'The Saga of America' ought to be this books' title, with 1 or 2 more companion volumes to take us up to the present. This author is just the person for the job.
As stated, the military events are elements of the narrative flow, not the 'real' story.
Some common over-generalizations about generals and battles that miss the better searchlights of, particularly, more recent scholarship, can be easily filled in by trolling the waters. Author James McPherson is a star to call on here.
One stand-out omission is the vast effort to create a superior cavalry arm on the part of the North. Longacre's two books, 'Lincoln's Cavalrymen,' and 'Grant's Cavalryman,' (Bio on General Wilson) shed much light on this topic. Mr. Guelzo makes it seem that no one really got a handle on a branch of service that was in a period of transition, historically.
But you come away from this work REALLY knowing what it took to create the various military and political ventures.
Also, I think he falls into the 'failed Reconstruction' school of thought, when, 'sabotaged Reconstruction' is the proper term.
Read 'The Life and Times of Stanton, by Thomas and Hyman to understand the instant war against Emancipation after the surrenders that southern leaders (And Andrew Johnson, our worst President) declared, not needing any goad from Yankee Carpetbaggers for inspiration. (The worst of that lot? Dixiecrat Governor of Mississippi and cheerleader for the 'Bloody Shirt' terrorists who stole $300,000!)
To really get to know the force of nature called Stanton, read Fletcher Pratt's bio, 'Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War. It serves as a marvelous intro to civil life of aspiring professionals in the emerging, Antebellum United States, west of the Appalachians.
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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

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