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How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War Hardcover – January 1, 1983
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"Superb military history, analytic, comprehensive, discursive, controversial in the best sense, and always stimulating... One of the very best Civil War books to appear in the past quarter-century." -- Dudley T. Cornish, Military Affairs --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
'The beginning student of Civil War military history will find the work an unmatched guide to how war was fought in the mid nineteenth century. Anyone already well versed in Civil War history will find immensely stimulating the authors' interpretations of Union and Confederate strategy, interpretations that will have to be grappled with by all subsequent historians of the subject.' -Russell F. Weigley, Indiana Magazine of History --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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The logistical aspects of the war and the background of the personalities is excellent however and the book gives excellent insights that are often overlooked in other civil war histories. A little bit of a rough read at times, but certainly worth the effort for serious historical scholars.
The argument made that Grant and Sherman invented a form of warfare new to the Civil War--the strategic raid--and that such raids were what ended the war, is overwhelmingly convincing.
The attention to military matters, particularly logistics, explains so much that has always puzzled me.
The judgments concerning character are always interesting, even when I disagree, and the evidence is given so fairly, that in many cases view contrary to those of the authors are as strongly supported as their own.
Particularly useful is the evaluation of Grant and the evidence (as I read it) of Lincoln's utter focus on public opinion, that directly caused so much military horror (a view evidently shared by Halleck: one wonders whether it was shared by Halleck's men, Sherman and Grant).
What is surprising are the evident but trivial flaws in the book. Occassional horrible writing, that any editor, or grammar checker should have corrected; occassional sentences that directly contradict previous conclusions, thus being as wishy washy as a Union general with the slows, suggest some problems in the writing of the book, perhaps between the authors. But these lapses are so obvious and easy to correct (by the reader) that they hardly detract from the power of the book.
I cannot imagine someone thinking the same way about the Civil War after he reads this book.
Also makes me re-think that general-in-chief Henry Halleck wasn't quite the 'dunderhead' I always took him to be. Maybe not a great fighting general, but more fitted to organizational & logistics issues. And implementing general Scott's anaconda strategy.
A very readable book, which I've enjoyed.
If that too is what you are looking for, then I would suggest moving your search elsewhere.
This book is indeed a scholarly tome. It is comprehensive (in the areas that it is meant to cover) and very detailed.
I could go into detail in all of its positive points, but would recommend that readers check out the other 4-star and 5-star reviews.
I rated it as only 4-star due to two things.
One, there were some trivial errors here and there which should have been picked up in an editing process. Nothing major but kept the book from being fully polished.
Two, as a strategic item, the book did not address the contributions of Robert E. Lee in the loss by the South. Rather than spell those out here, I would point any interested reader to the book "How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War" (an excellent and well researched and referenced presentation)
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Civil War buff