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4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical history of the American Civil War, 16 Nov 2005
Mark Klobas (Tempe, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
Despite being recounted innumerable times in print, the American Civil War is often examined in very narrow terms, usually involving the decisions of commanders and the movement of units on the battlefield. David Williams's book is much different. In chapter-length accounts, Williams looks at the how the war impacted the lives of men and women on the home front, draftees, African Americans and Native Americans – groups often neglected in traditional accounts of the war.
Such a focus brings a refreshing perspective to a well-worn subject. The war depicted in these pages is a much more complex one than in previous books; class tension fuels resentment towards the conflict, while the South struggles to cope with unionist sentiment that is overlooked in many accounts. Though Williams's continual resort to class as the paradigm for evaluating events wears over the course of the book (the 'rich man’s war' line got a little old after awhile), his conclusions – backed by a solid command of Civil War historiography – are impossible to ignore. The result is a valuable corrective of the standard 'guns and generals' account of the Civil War, one that should be required reading for any student of the conflict.
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