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The Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393975550
ISBN-10: 039397555X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William E. Gienapp is professor of history at Harvard University.  He is the author of The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852–1856.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (February 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039397555X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393975550
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Gienapp's document collection is extremely useful for research and historical argument papers. It is well-organized and he has also inserted extremely useful introductions to each piece, which is abridged to ideal length (average 1-1 1/2 pages) and written in nice large easy-to-read print. The collection is in chronological order and contains gems such as important speeches like the Freeport Doctrine and "Cotton is King," newspaper articles from the time period (detailing the Battle of the Ironsides, for example), and most of the other most important primary documents available from the era. Its lack of an index is somewhat frustrating, but overall, it is a great tool for research that every serious student of the civil war should have, although it is probably superfluous for a casual civil war buff. It's good for what it is, and don't buy it for what it's not.
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This book was required for a course on the Civil War that I just recently took. It is very helpful in providing a foundational context for many of the dilemmas surrounding politicians and ordinary Americans in the time period before, during, and after the Civil War.
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This collection of primary sources is extremely helpful. It is a companion to The Civil War and Reconstruction by Donald, Baker, and Hall. The selections are organized around the chapters of that history book. For one studying The Civil War and Reconstruction in school, or the amateur scholar, this is a very exciting find.
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This was a very important book for Civil War scholars to have in the time before the digitization of historical documents became widespread. It may not be as important today, but it is still an extremely handy collection of primary source documents that cover the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. What makes it so useful today is that instructors can use the collection to select documents as well as have the book for a reference for students who may not have access to the Internet. The use of primary sources is very important as they provide the information needed for historians to develop interpretations from.

William Gienapp was a professor of history at Harvard. He passed away in 2003 at the far too young age of 59. Considered to be an extremely gifted historian of the 19th century, Gienapp wrote several books about historical events in that century. He was a highly regarded professor who had the great fortune to teach a course “Baseball and the American Society, 1840-Present” which was received quite well by Harvard students. This collection of primary sources was a work he undertook that grew from his teaching methods.

I first encountered this book via Eric Foner’s EdX courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction. It was part of Foner’s required readings and he referred to the documents and the book constantly in his lectures. I decided to pick up the book even though I had read most of the documents because I wanted to be able to access the documents at any time. So far, I’ve used the book on multiple occasions which has justified its purchase easily. Another thing I like about the book is that it shows how Gienapp selected documents for inclusion. He chose the relevant ones that students should be familiar with.
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This is an extensive collection of primary source documents placed in chronological order and titled by theme spanning from pre-war to Reconstruction almost exclusively connected in some way to the theme of the evils of Slavery. Some of the documents are already well-known but the majority of the carefully selected documents are in print for the first time.
This collection could be helpful for college students or researchers who would like a handy set of documents to use as sources because William Gienapp has included background information at the start of each document to help place the writings in context, but those doing research may find fault because the collection is not indexed.
The editor, William E. Gienapp, author of This Fiery Trial: The Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln, The Civil War Diary of Gideon
Welles, Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography, and The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856, etc is a historian and editor with strong Northern leanings as evidenced by his selection of readings in this work, and his previous books, so the reader is cautioned to seek additional documentary sources in order to obtain a more balanced perspective.
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Both sides of the conflict are presented here. The pre-war essays are especially enlightening as this period is not really covered in most history courses. The preface to each article is well written and adds context to the actual piece
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This is not a book you will read from cover to cover. You will select from it as if you were at a desert buffet were many wonderful items
you did not know what to settle on first. So you dig in on at a time, jumping from one end of the table to the other, with each selection better than the other. When you finish you do not know, which was best, they are all interesting..
There are letters from soldiers at the front, some from their wives, newspapers advocating the Confederate point of view and others with the Yankees opinion. There are letters from the cultured officer and from the little schooled private plus recollections from former slaves.
At the end, you will be better satisfied with your understanding of the war. It is a book I will treasure.
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