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on 30 March 2004
I read this volume aside "Battle cry of Freedom" from James McPherson, and although it is not as complete, it is quicker to read and contains the essential military developments of the civil war. What I really appreciate, though, are the quality of the illustrations (although some of the maps could have been better and more precise), but even more, the chapters aside the main events, focusing on specific portraits of civilians and soldiers living during this war. If I were to read this book again, I would read it before "Battle cry of Freedom", as a preliminary to understand it even better. Overall, I think this Osprey collection (Essential Histories) is excellent to awake (or not) your interest on a particular war or campaign and give you an incentive to do more research on a particular subject if you like the corresponding Osprey book, providing you a short but accurate bibliography for further reading, which is always useful for the amateur historian.
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on 30 March 2005
If you want to know about the civil war,how it came about? where,when and what happened? who the key player's were?Then this is the book for you!I wanted a book that was informative, yet written in an easily absorbing way.It is vivid without being boring,the only downside is that you find it very hard to put down!
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Initially I was disappointed when I casually looked through this book . However , once I sat down to read it in earnest I thoroughly enjoyed it . Its collection of individual topics written by its array of writers works extremely well and produces a book which is both illuminating and a very satisfying read . A super addition to American Civil War literature .
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on 21 April 2013
I bought a lot of books about the American Civil War. This book has the focus on the war. If you want to read about slavery, politics and Lincoln you shall choose another book. But if you want to read about the battles, the weapons and the generals, this is a very good choise. The book is organized in a very easy way. The book has a lot of very beautiful illustrations, many in full color. The maps are very detailed and useful.
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on 1 December 2013
Having seen the Ken Burns documentary some years ago, I wanted a decent, readable account of the ACW that focussed on the military campaigns, but also that put them in the wider socio-political context. This book did the job very well - it's short enough to hold your interest, but detailed enough to satisfy. It breaks the war down into eastern and western theatres, describing the action in each for a couple of years at a time, which helps you keep track of what was happening at the time across the country. The book also contains accounts of individuals affected by the war, both soldiers and civilians, which really helps give a different perspective to the pure tactical and strategic accounts. Plenty of good, clear campaign maps and illustrations/photos and nice vignettes of most of the key generals are embedded in the narrative as it goes along.

In short, a very good, clear introduction to the topic. I'm now reading 'Battle Cry of Freedom' to see how it compares.

NB: Impressed with this one, I bought the Essential Histories volume on the Napoleonic Wars. The latter doesn't hold a candle to this book.
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on 3 February 2016
A fantastic book. Beautifully written and the photos are superb. Anyone wanting to know more about the American Civil War could not have a better and masterful book to learn from.
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on 19 May 2016
This book was bought as a present for my elderly Dad and he has enjoyed reading it.
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on 1 February 2016
Informative and engaging
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on 29 June 2014
Lots of information
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on 5 December 2014
very good
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