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For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War Reprint Edition
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"In For Cause and Comrades the voices of the young men of the North and South sing out to us clearly, colorfully, compellingly, telling us what it was like for them--the battles, the camps, the cold and hunger, the fear, the boredom, the despair, the triumph. "--The Wall Street Journal
"A stunning, authentic narrative of the war from beginning to end, woven out of totally disparate voices...but strikingly shared experiences."--The Boston Globe
"In a prose that is both sensitive and remarkably lucid, [McPherson] helps us to reenter an American society in which ideals were not merely pat phrases but principles that inspired conduct--however hateful some of those principles were."--New York Review of Books
"McPherson, For Cause and Comrades, will make all of us rethink the meaning of the Civil War. By asking why men fought, and looking to the diaries and letters to see how and why they thought about war and its moral and ideological costs and consequences, McPherson puts us into the soul of America. This book will provoke and inform class discussions..."--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's University
"Modern Americans often express astonishment at the commitment to their causes exhibited by Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Anyone hoping to understand what motivated soldiers in that horrific conflict should welcome James M. McPherson's For Cause and Comrades. McPherson uses letters and diaries of more than a thousand men to explore how religion, ideology, notions about honor and manhood, pressure from home, and hatred for the enemy contributed to a quite remarkable willingness to sacrifice. Reflecting the fruitful conjunction of an important topic and the talents of a major historian, this book merits the widest possible readership."--Gary W. Gallagher, Professor of American History, The Pennsylvania State University
"For Cause and Comrades adds to Professor James McPherson's luster as one of our foremost Civil War historians...He takes issue with other scholars who downplay or dismiss the idological commitments of Civil War soldiers, and argues persuasively that courage, honor, love of liberty and country had powerful meanings in North and South."--William J. Cooper, Jr., Boyd Professor of History, Louisiana State University
"Another excellent 'must read' from the dean of modern Civil War scholars. Thought provoking."--Ken Noe, State University of West Georgia
"A brilliant analysis of why they fought by a master of Civil War lore and history."--C. Vann Woodward, Sterling Professor of History, Emeritus, Yale University
"At a time when the work of some of our leading historians bulge with theory, and carry meager evidence, McPherson shows us history at its best."--Gabor Boritt, Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies, Gettysburg College
"For Cause and Comrades is nothing short of an excellent book. The most accomplished Civil War historian of today has produced a richly-rsearched, elegantly-written volume that shatters once and for all the illusion that Civil War soldiers lacked an understanding of the monumental idological issues of their day. When students of the Civil War wonder what prompted those Confederates to storm Cemetery Ridge, or what motivated Union soldiers to pin their names to their jackets and then assault the ememy works at Cold Harbor, they need look no farther than For Cause and Comrades."--Joseph T. Glatthaar, Professor of History, University of Houston
"This is an excellent complement to McPherson's Ordeal by Fire. For Cause and Comrades lends a personal dimension to the soldiers' perspective of the meaning of this bitter national struggle."--Thomas Best, Monmouth College
"McPherson's newest addition to a long roster of books is valuable not only for Civil War afficionados but for students of military history generally."--Kirkus
"Essential reading for Civil War Collections in both public and academic libraries."--Library Journal
"McPherson convincingly maintains that the chief reason so many Civil War Soldiers fought so long and so resolutely was that they had an iron belief in their goals."--Los Angeles Times
"[McPherson] not only illuminates soldier resolve, but climbs inside the heads of Billies and Johnnies to explore much about what made them tick."--Michael E. Ruane, The Baltimore Sun
"The book fills readers with a profound respect for the soldiers who struggled so valiantly for the cause in which they believed."--School Library Journal
"[A] persuasive and provocative account of why the Civil War soldiers fought."--CHOICE
About the Author
James McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History at Princeton University where he has taught since 1962. The author of eleven books on the Civil War era of American History, he won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1989 for Battle Cry of Freedom.
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The author skillfully integrates the letters through many areas of concerns for any fighting man -- the reasons for volunteering and continuing to fight, letters from home, exhultation in battle when winning and despondency in loss, secession and emancipation, the place of "the Negro" in "the cause" and in battle, courage and its meaning, the challenges of each day, and more. These concerns are chronologically presented, and viewed from both the men of the North and South. The men's thoughts show they were men of courage (though many questioned if they would be) and conviction, loyalty and commitment, family men who evaluated their own reasons for being and fighting, recognizing what they were missing at home and why they were there--many understanding that this moment in time was also the future.
I was not prepared for the book to end. Perhaps the author will entertain a sequel. I want to know about the "letter writers'" families and the men's thoughts at the end of the war. What was their experience upon return home? And what happened to families when they didn't return. I want to know how the letters ended in the National Archives or how and why they were saved and found their way to a museum. In other words, Mr. McPherson captured my desire to know more -- a true sign of a good and most worthwhile read.