- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (April 7, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307264254
- ISBN-13: 978-0307264251
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vicksburg 1863 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 7, 2009
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*Starred Review* Among the most visited of Civil War battlefields, Vicksburg here receives a narrative equal to its significance and popular interest. Though Vicksburg was obviously the strategic key to control of the Mississippi River, it was anything but clear how to unlock the place or to keep it locked. The military difficulties its geography presented to both attacker and defender underlie a perceptiveness present throughout Groom’s account: he grasps commanders’ options, senses the sturdiness of their military character, and dramatizes their choices in a way that awakens the inner armchair general in Civil War readers. Nor does Groom neglect the chain connecting the decisions of strategists to the tumultuous experiences of those on the receiving end, from Union and Confederate soldiers to plantation owners and their slaves. The present-tense flow in Groom’s prose enhances vividness, just as it captures the fogginess of war that beset the minds of generals and admirals who conducted the Vicksburg campaigns, of which there were more than half a dozen before Grant’s victory. A superior example of general-interest Civil War history, this is skillful work by Groom, also the author of several military histories and the novel Forrest Gump (1986). --Gilbert Taylor
“With Vicksburg, 1863, [Groom] has fully arrived as a narrative historian, who proves again that facts skillfully woven can be more moving than the products of the busiest imagination . . . Groom’s books is full of . . . authentically rendered excitement.”
–Ernest B. Furgurson, The Washington Post
“Groom’s lively account has a frighteningly contemporary sheen . . . His mastery of plot and storytelling leaves him inordinately well-disposed to piece together the tangled mass of major battles and peashooter skirmishes . . . that made up the Vicksburg campaign.”
–Eric Banks, Chicago Tribune
“Groom brings the novelist’s touch to history . . . Groom’s version of the long campaign to capture Vicksburg . . . offers fresh insights on the human costs of the war and what it mean to the nation.”
–Walter Putnam, Associated Press
“With the publication of Vicksburg, 1863 . . . Winston Groom attains the stratospheric narrative heights heretofore enjoyed by such popular-history masters as Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote and James M. McPherson. His pacing is so good, his attention to detail so riveting, and his flair for action writing so pitch-perfect that the reader is utterly absorbed and inexorably swept along . . . There have been many books about Vicksburg, but none better than this.”
--John Sledge, Mobile Press-Register
“A galvanizing and harrowing account . . . Relying on southern sensibilities, historical scrupulousness and a novelist’s feel for a good yarn, Winston Groom plunges into this cauldron with a presentation that gives full vent to the cost in human lives and the enormous stakes for both sides.”
–Jonathan E. Lazarus, The Star-Ledger
“Groom’s command of the military facts, and his extraordinary mixture of vignettes big and small, brings this distant, chaotic, and shockingly violent episode to life.”
–Philip Terzian, The Weekly Standard
“[A] masterful telling of the pivotal Civil War siege and battle.”
–Billy Heller, New York Post
“Vicksburg here receives a narrative equal to its significance and popular interest . . . [Groom] grasps commanders’ options, senses the sturdiness of their military characters, and dramatizes their choices in a way that awakens the inner armchair general in Civil War readers.”
–Booklist (starred review)
“Vivid Civil War storytelling in the tradition of Shelby Foote.”
“Groom presents grand events from a human perspective, introducing a spectrum of colorful characters.”
"An exciting, balanced account of what may have been the most decisive campaign of the Civil War. Vicksburg demanded the most sustained efforts of the conflict from both land and naval forces. Though the denouement is now well known, the story unfolds here with a sense of drama and unpredictability, and no inevitable outcome. It is all there--bravery and cowardice, competence and folly, fear and endurance, all with the constant, imponderable undertow of dumb luck, good and bad."
--Stephen Fox, author of Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama
“The author of the classic Forrest Gump has delivered another tour de force with his Vicksburg 1863. Beautifully written, Winston Groom places us in the minds and hearts of the citizens and soldiers who lived the battles and endured the hardships of war in the besieged city. This is a must read!”
--Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and founding Chair of The Lincoln Forum
"In Vicksburg, 1863 Winston Groom bids fair to assume the mantle of the late Shelby Foote as a most eloquent and moving storyteller of the Civil War. His prose is unbeatable, with a fine flair for drawing the drama out of isolated and seemingly minor episodes, while his pen portraits of individuals are crisp and incisive. The feel and smell and hardship of soldiers and civilians alike in a siege are all here in Vicksburg, 1863."
–William C. Davis, author of Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America
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Top Customer Reviews
The book gives us a good foundation talking about how important the Mississippi River is to 19th century America and the founding of Vicksburg. While our attention is never taken from the city, the outside world is never forgotten. Richmond's wishes, directives and interference are never far from the surface and play a major role in the developing campaign. Events in Virginia, New Orleans and Port Hudson keep the war in perspective. The interaction between Pemberton, Johnston and Davis are given a proper place but is not over estimated. Grant's problems with Halleck, McClernand, the press and Washington play a role in the planning and pace of operations. Politics is almost as important as military operations in this book. This is correct as Vicksburg is of major interest to both presidents.
Are their problems? Yes, there are a number of problems with the story as the author chooses to tell it. First and foremost is the question of Grant's drinking. The author accepts as true incidents discredited by a number of current historians but well accepted at one time. The book has a number of statements about military operations that some historian's question. Again, most of these were generally accepted and still are by some historians.Read more ›
Winston Groom provides his take on almost everything that occurred from the present day vantage point of one who at heart wishes the South might have somehow acted in a way that did not lead to its ultimate abject defeat. He seems to think the North provoked the war (I know the South fired the first shots); he does not see why the hard war of General Sherman was necessary (I do); or why North and South could not simply come to a political compromise when the war turned bad for the South (I think because of the evil of slavery combined with a refusal by Southern leadership to accept the primacy of the federal union).
To me a most interesting and telling fact is contained in a minor foot note on page 155: After the Civil War, the city of Vicksburg did not officially celebrate The Fourth of July until 1945.
While I do not agree with all of Mr. Groom's political and social observations, I do think his book is entertaining and well written. The vivid descriptions of the numerous land battles and naval engagements make for compelling reading, while the many generals and admirals are brought to life.
Mr. Groom's book should help serve to refocus attention to the major and hard fought Union victory of July 4, 1863 at Vicksburg from the still headline battle of the same time, Gettysburg. While the few bloody days at Gettysburg remain the subject of enormous public attention, Vicksburg is the campaign (and Grant the general) that determined the Civil War's military outcome.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent account. So far Groom can't write a less than excellent book. Interesting, researched, with just enough background. One of the best history writers. Read morePublished 1 month ago by gpr
Great read. Groom is an excellent writer, bringing history to life.Published 1 month ago by Steve Whitwill
Amazing book. Once again, Groom delivers. I liked how he started out in 1861, with Grant at the beginning of his Civil War career. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Leo G. Barron
I read this before visiting Vicksburg (people should do that before visiting any battle field) and it made the Memorial Park come alive for me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Munseyflora
An insightful look at the Vicksburg Campaign from Grant's tenacious determination despite a series of setbacks to the conflicting command guidance provided to Confederate General... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul E. Hoiland
A very good history of this siege that goes deeply into the suffering of the Vicksburg residents and their struggle to survive lack of food and just about every other requirement... Read morePublished 7 months ago by George K
Outstanding. Groom tells the story without getting bogged down into paragraphs listing which unit was to the left of which and so on.Published 7 months ago by RML