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America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 276 pages

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Product Details

  • File Size: 1462 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Amer Library Assn (October 9, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005UG0KAO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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America's War is a collection of essays, documents, journal entries, and communiques regarding the Civil War, selected by one of America's most eminent historians, Edward Ayers. By selecting his source materials (not quite exclusively) from the time period itself (a decade or so before the Civil War, and through the Civil War), Ayers gives the reader a view of what was going on in the minds of Americans, both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line, with a shocking clarity that simply cannot be achieved by reading a contemporary scholar's well done analysis and subsequently published opinion. The difference between reading a well written book about the Civil War, and reading the original source documents provided by Ayers, though this may seem an unlikely stretch, is as profoundly different as the contrast between attending a lecture about travels in Antarctica, versus having been there yourself. Doubtful? Try it. Repeatedly, reading the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln (who tries to encourage the Negros to depart the U.S. for a South American colony), General McClellan (adored by his troops, ridiculed by his peers), Mark Twain (who was a Confederate soldier for a few weeks), Louisa May Alcott (a nurse in a civil war hospital, as well as the author of Little Women), Frederick Douglass (his phenomenally brilliant and deeply disturbing speech titled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"), the reader will think "Could this possibly be true? Why don't they teach this in our schools?" The answers, respectively, are "yes" and "I don't know, but they should".

My wife, a teacher of American history at the middle school level, moved away from textbooks toward primary sources some years back. I listened with about half an ear as she lauded this approach. I should have listened with both ears.
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Perhaps the price is paying for the time it took the author to pull these from the Internet and reorder them.

In any case, there are few passages in the book that you won't find with a Google search. And hey, maybe you want them bound for on-the-go reading.

The passages are nice, but I'm reviewing the practical, comparative value of the book. For someone like me, who would prefer to look up individual passages, this is merely an added convenience (that I won't be using).
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