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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) [Kindle Edition]

James M. McPherson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Product Description


what will surely become the standard one-volume history of the great conflict which forged America as a united nation. Godfrey Hodgson, The Independent

probably the best single-volume history of America's Civil War yet written. (The Economist )

Book Description

A sweeping account of the USA's most turbulent decades

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 14875 KB
  • Print Length: 946 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (25 Feb 1988)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,422 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best history book I ever read.... 25 Aug 2002
I read this book around 8 years ago, and my opinion hasn't changed: if you're only going to read one book on the American civil war make it this one!
Mr McPherson's achievement is nothing short of miraculous, he encapsulates every aspect of the civil war from the political and social factors to the personalities involved, and some tremendous military details, the descriptions of the battles are so engrossing you can almost smell the gunpowder wafting off the pages. It's remarkable that he can cram so much detail into 900 or so pages and make it all so absorbing and readable.
But what really sets this great work apart in my opinion are two things:
1. The wealth of first hand accounts, from contemporaneous letters of all the soldiers private to the most famous generals, politicians and ordinary members of the public. These all contribute to make the war seem far more alive and real, it may have happened 140 years ago but when reading this book you'll sometimes feel like it happened yesterday.
2. The wealth of fascinating little details that puts the history into context, I quote a typical example "The casualties at Antietam numbered four times the total suffered at the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944", I just plucked that one at random from my well thumbed copy here.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning evocation of the Civil War 5 Jan 2010
As a non-American reader, who knew precious little about the Civil War, I wasn't especially keen to read this book. But it was a truly enlightening experience, bringing a personal dimension to the key players at Gettysburg so effectively that I will never forget any of them. Riveting stuff. How well and absorbingly this is written. If you haven't read it, you are in for a real experience.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the finest historical volumes I have ever read on any subject. McPherson's strengths are are threefold: firstly his research is astonishing in its detail and expertly referenced, secondly he writes with wonderful clarity and linguistic dexterity, and thirdly he remains passionately impartial about his subject. The only weakness I can think of in this superb work is the extremely poor quality of the maps and diagrams some of which are nearly illegible, responsibility for which rests with the publisher (Penguin). Those seeking an easy read focusing primarily on the famous battles of the Civil War might be better off looking elsewhere (such as the Osprey volume "The American Civil War"), because while McPherson does cover military matters extensively, he is at least if not more concerned with an analysis of the political and social climate surrounding them and in this respect his book must surely stand out as an astonishingly well researched and scholarly work. Which is not to say that this book is anything other than a compelling read - despite the wealth and density of detail, Macpherson writes with elan and lucidity for over 850 brilliant pages. Thoroughly recommended, even if you will need at least a week of solid reading to get through it!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
James McPherson has done an outstanding job of condensing the story of American Civil War into 900 just pages. The book details not just the war itself, but the crucial events that led the South to cesession. As the author uses a narrative style throughout, the book is easy to read and is in no way dry, as many historical accounts can be. I knew virtually nothing about the American Civil War before I read this book but now I can tell my Butternuts from my Copperheads with no problem. If you are looking for an introductory work on the American Civil War look no further. This is it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book 6 Jun 2004
By A Customer
As a visitor to the USA, I was surprised at how much Civil War literature there is. However, it should be remembered that more Americans died in that war than in all other wars in which Americans have ever fought put together, and its effects on the USA linger to this day. Moreover, it was the first modern war and the shape of the First World War could be discerned for anyone willing to look. For an introduction to the Civil War, I find it hard to believe that this volume could be bettered. Not just a battle by battle account, it sets the scene of the preceding years, with the issue of slavery like the viper in the bosom of the USA right from its inception and the rise of the Republican Party and its first president Abraham Lincoln with its mildly abolitioinist platform (the Republican Party has fallen a long way since then!). The language is crisp and clear and the whole thing flows easily and comprehensibly in a style of which many novelists would be envious. If you want a good one-volume overview of this critical episode in the history of the world, look no further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect... 13 Mar 2012
By Horace
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Overall, an excellent book. The prose is crisp and really manages to synthesise so many aspects of the conflict into a rolling narrative. It's likely you will find yourself reading in 100 page plus chunks, which is pretty good going for subject material which could have been on the dry, academic side (I wish David Glantz would take note!). This book works even better (in my humble opinion) if you read as a companion to Ken Burns' "The Civil War" film documentary.

A few criticisms, however - the battle / campaign maps are UTTERLY useless - I don't think I have seen worse - minute, font size must be about 0.5, black, dark grey and slightly less grey symbols on a (you guessed it) grey background is not going to help anyone. Some of the tiny maps compound this by having even smaller map inserts. I know there's not a lot you can do with A5 sized books, but currently reading Manstein by Mungo Melvin, who manages to have clear, legible colour campaign maps in a book the same size.

It may be a complaint which a lot of US readers wouldn't have, but a larger scale map showing how the cities, rivers, states and valleys actually sit with each other in terms of overall geography would have been really useful, but I suppose you could just say "buy an atlas!".

Might be a bit on the niggly side, but the paper quality is really poor, too.

The text alone easily merits 5 stars. The presentation (which I am guessing isn't really down to the author) is pretty ropey.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective and understanding of American Politics for us...
Highlights the painful Politics of the American Society and the pains those involved went to to make their points,justify their decisions and prosecute a most cruel war. Read more
Published 12 days ago by David Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced, insightful, vivid
If I was to read only one book, I was particularly concerned to find one that avoided ahistoric value judgments and the bias that would follow. Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. M. M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless
If there was only one book to read giving a general view of the American Civil War especially all the Politics and Economics wrapped up in the build up to the fighting, this has to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bryn y Groes
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the key elements of the American Civil War
I was expecting more of a military perspective than this which is more generalist. That said, it is well written, reads relatively easily and addresses the key challenges logically... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Grant F Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent overview of the civil war, it causes, and turning point. On top of that the writing is top notch.
Published 2 months ago by Errol
5.0 out of 5 stars impressed
had a flick through, looks very good, just waiting for my husband to read it first has it was a present for him
Published 3 months ago by Nicola Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive History of the American Civil War
This a concise history of the American Civil War and deals with a complex subject in a well structured manner. It is not an easy read, but then neither is the subject. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive account
This is my second time reading it. A terrific account of the war , the reasons for it and how it developed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by rock maker
5.0 out of 5 stars E-X-T-R-A-O-R-D-I-N-A-R-Y!!! A brilliantly written history of War...
I read this book first in 1991 and recently I had the pleasure to read it again - and I liked it very much, both times. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maciej
5.0 out of 5 stars The only Book on the American Civil War one needs
Worthy winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Well written, logical narrative structure, explains the pre civil war politics extremely clearly. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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