Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
An absolutely amazing book!
on 26 March 2017
This is probably the best one volume book on the Civil War out there. There is never a dull moment. McPherson's writing style is quick, clear, and easy to read. He truly brings to life that feeling of utter division that was the Civil War and one wonders how the country ever healed and how it has become so united. The idea that Americans would place allegiance to their states over the national governement seems so utterly foreign now, it amazes me to think how so much has changed since those days.
There does seem to be some confusion about the purpose of the book. It was actually written as part of a greater series "The Oxford History of the United States." It covers the Civil War era, not just the war itself, and covers about twenty years from 1847-1865. It is impossible to undestand what the Civil War was without understanding the background, so I fail to understand the complaints of some reviewers that the war only shows up after about 300 or so pages. It is a thoroughly detailed review of the major causes of the Civil War and if you don't understand it after reading this book, you never will. It is clear and concise.
I really believe that any student of American histroy must read this book. It's beautifully written and worth the time it takes you to plow through it. There are extensive notes so readers can investigate fully various subjects of the book. Highly recommended.