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War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 (The Littlefield History of the Civil War Era) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''McPherson, professor emeritus of Princeton and dean of Civil War historians, enhances our knowledge with this history of the conflict's naval aspects. As definitive as it is economical, the work establishes beyond question the decisive contributions of maritime power to Union victory.'' --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

''With all the narrative grace, original scholarship, and equal grasp of both big picture and telling detail, Civil War historian nonpareil James McPherson has provided his admirers with another authoritative entry in his roster of essential books. McPherson never argues that the Union navy won the Civil War, but readers will argue that no Civil War library will ever be complete without this volume.'' --Harold Holzer, award-winning author and chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation

''McPherson displays his massive knowledge of the Civil War, this time specifically concerning the naval battles . . . A solid contribution to Civil War scholarship.'' --Kirkus Reviews

''James McPherson's many admirers in the Civil War community will be thrilled that he has turned his keen eye and eloquent pen to the naval war. In this new, concise history of the war at sea, McPherson not only tells an important story well, he shows how the Union navy, with only five percent of Union military assets, had a disproportionate impact on the war.'' --Craig L. Symonds, award-winning author of Lincoln and His Admirals

''Wonderfully written and researched . . . Balanced, objective, and highly readable.'' --Howard Jones, University of Alabama

Review

With all the narrative grace, original scholarship, and equal grasp of both big picture and telling detail, Civil War historian nonpareil James McPherson has provided his admirers with another authoritative entry in his roster of essential books. McPherson never argues that the Union Navy won the Civil War, but readers will argue that no Civil War library will ever be complete without this volume.--Harold Holzer, Chairman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation



Wonderfully written and researched. . . . Balanced, objective, and highly readable.--Howard Jones, University of Alabama



James McPherson's many admirers in the Civil War community will be thrilled that he has turned his keen eye and eloquent pen to the naval war. In this new, concise history of the war at sea, McPherson not only tells an important story well, he shows how the Union Navy, with only five percent of Union military assets, had a disproportionate impact on the war.--Craig L. Symonds, author of Lincoln and His Admirals

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Littlefield History of the Civil War Era
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (September 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1470827360
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470827366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,295,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In his breadth of knowledge, lucid writing, and passion for his subject, James McPherson remains among the best of Civil War historians, For many years Professor of history at Princeton University, McPherson has the rare gift of appealing to both academic and lay readers. In his latest book, "War on the Waters: The Union & Confederate Navies, 1861 -- 1865 (2012), McPherson focuses on the role of the navies in the Civil War. He argues persuasively that students of the war tend to understate the importance of the navies in the war's outcome. This is particularly the case, he argues, for the Union Navy. The book enhanced my knowledge of a sometimes overlooked aspect of the war.

The focus of the book is on the Union Navy in that it was far larger than the Confederate Navy and ultimately more successful. Thus, McPerson begins by quoting Abraham Lincoln in 1863 on the navy's role in the Vicksburg campaign. "Nor must Uncle Sam's Web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present. Not only on the deep sea,the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks." In McPherson's book, the reader follows "Uncle Sam's Web-feet" in the oceans, rivers, swamps, and bayous.

McPherson also praises the Confederate navy for its ingenuity and spirit and for doing much with little. Without the industrial resources of the North, the Confederacy led in the development of ironclad ships, torpedoes, and submarines.In its Secretary of the Navy, Steven Mallory, the Confederacy had a gifted and innovative leader whom McPherson obviously admires.

In a relatively short book McPherson explores naval battles, large and small, on the sea and on the rivers.
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Format: Hardcover
Civil War history tends to mention the Navy only at Hampton Roads and Vicksburg. The blockade, usually noted in passing, gets credit for cutting the Confederacy from Europe.
A person could forget that both sides spent considerable resources on their navy. This is a good introduction to naval operations during the war.
As expected, an introduction will not contain details and nuances. Rather an introduction will cover the major considerations, personalities, operations and events.
The author provides everything that we could reasonably expect in an introduction to Civil War Naval history.
He manages to convey this in an interesting, intelligent prose that is as easy to read as it is enjoyable.

Organization is a combination of theater, operations or years, which sounds confusing, but it works well.
Depending on the subject, the reader can expect a history that is stand-alone or integrated into the war. This is not all "Damn the torpedoes".
There is a good deal of technological, political and social considerations.
We see the movement from wooded ships to ironclads, the racially mixed crews and how politics influences operations.

With all of this, we still find time for the battles. Readers will not be disappointed with the military coverage.
The author captures all major and many smaller actions and firmly places them in the overall structure of the war.
We see how the result of past operations affects planning.

The University of North Carolina Press always presents a professional book.
This is no exception with a full set of maps, illustrations, endnotes, bibliography and index.
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Format: Hardcover
A very good concise survey of the naval history of the Civil War. Drawing on both primary research and a large body of secondary studies, this is a very well written book with decent illustrations and maps. McPherson covers both the broad contours of the war and all the major engagements/campaigns. Most of the book is about the Union Navy, but the Confederate efforts receive appropriate coverage. McPherson gives a particularly good idea of the challenges facing the Union Navy and its remarkable achievements. These include developing whole new riverine fleets and modes of warfare, the crucial blockade, and the equally crucial role in combined operations for the conquest of the South. The Confederate Navy receives its due coverage for its moderately successful commerce raiding and efforts to employ new technologies. I suspect that most, perhaps all, of the content of this book will be known well to the large body of readers interested in the Civil War, but this book covers the topic very well in a relatively short book. Excellent bibliography.
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By Chekk on November 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have always wanted to know more about the brown water vessels of the Civil War. A time, or war, where the end of sail and beginning of steam overlap, with side wheel, screw prop, iron, timber and tin clad ships and monitors slug it out on the rivers of the interior, as well as the coasts. A great read, I just wish it had more pictures, as I had to jump to Wiki to view pictures of each belligerent ship. It should probably lose a star or two for this, but I am always in a generous mood after a good book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has done a remarkable job of condensing a plethora of research material into a very readable book that effectively covers the the significant naval engagements of the Civil War to control the rivers, Southern ports, and commerce on the high seas. The ships, technologies, strategies, and their evolution are also detailed, as well as the individuals behind them. The book includes many observations from the participants obtained from journals, letters, reports, etc. as well as maps, photos, and other illustrations where appropriate.

While a few reviewers have criticized the author for focusing too much on Union Naval aspects, I felt the book is well balanced, considering the Confederate strategy was dominated by the use of static fortresses and shore batteries against Union warships. Those actions where Confederate ships were involved are effectively covered, as well as Confederate blockade running and commerce raiding, and Confederate efforts to build and acquire war ships at home and abroad. The author is even-handed in highlighting the failures and successes on both sides, and simply presents the facts for the reader to discern. He is not responsible for the outcome of engagements or the war.

This is a professional and polished book from the way it is structured to the way it is written. One of the best Civil War-era books I have read.
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