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Battles and Leaders of the Civil War V1 - The Opening Battles Hardcover – April 1, 1990

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 750 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Books; New edition edition (April 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890095698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890095690
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,168,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

The four volumes of the famous Battles and Leaders series constitute one of the essential collections of Civil War source material and the next step up for the casual and interested reader of Civil War literature. It includes lavishly illustrated (photographs, sketches, maps) accounts of the battles by the men who fought them, the great generals, the staff officers and other observers. Nothing is omitted and the price is unbelievably low for books of this sort. The only caveat is that accounts are sometimes self-serving, especially when written by a losing general. Nonetheless things balance out and I doubt if anyone will ever regret buying the set.
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This volume is the first in a set of four whose contents are primarily memoirs of officers on both sides of the conflict. These collected reprints, organized more-or-less chronologically, are from a series of magazine articles published in the late 19th century. Various helps such as photographs, line drawings, diagrams, and charts also appear.

While any one of these volumes represents a rich resource for history buffs, the set is not without its shortcomings. For example, none of the the first three volumes includes an index. (So far, I own only the first three, so cannot say whether the final volume contains a general index.) Additionally, the front of each successive volume contains an errata list for the previous volume, raising the question of whether the reader is simply "stuck" with the errors that appear in the 4th and final volume. Finally, while in a querulous mood, I'll note that the publisher scrimped substantially on the quality of the paper, which will be browned and brittle before the next generation of readers takes it up.

If you have the least interest in the U.S. Civil War, you'll be glad to have this book in your library. But buy it knowing it's a large pulp masquerading as a hardcover.
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Important first person accounts on the various perspectives of the Sectional War. These perspectives, written by both sides, North and South, shed additional insight on the battles and the men that fought them. There are some discrepancies which the editors amend by allowing follow-up letters to be published following the articles. In this way, the reader can discern what she believes to be the truth. There are blatantly obvious personal justifications for actions taken by some. For example, General P.G.T. Beauregard's account of First Manassas is a clear-cut example of one trying to exonerate himself from the disasterous decisions that he made in distributing his resources before the opening salvos of that battle. Thankfully the South had the brilliant and strategically adept General Thomas J. Jackson who knew where to go and what to do without orders! Additionally, while Joseph E. Johnson writes truthfully about the same battle, he has an axe to grind about his ranking as fourth general officer in the C.S.A. and spews venomous words at Pres. Jefferson Davis. (Davis ranked C.S.A. general officers in the following order: Samuel Cooper (Chief Adjutant General of the Army), Albert Sidney Johnson (died at the Battle of Shiloh), R.E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnson, and Kirby Smith (who amounted to nothing). Johnson never forgave the insult, although he worked well with Lee.

I didn't read every article -- I think you will read those which interest you, unless you are a Civil War generalist. I am not. Additionally, which I found very useful, included at the end of each battle is a list of units, giving the general officers and their immediate subalterns, who fought in each engagement. It is an excellent source for tracing the evolution of units and leaders as they were constantly realigning regiments and divisions.
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I bought this book to complete the set. It is a wonderful book, loaded with accurate historical information.
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Great
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