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A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role…
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A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

by Amanda Foreman

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Read Vol 1 of a multi-vol edition. Didnt inspire me to seek out the rest.. Intriguing angle. The Uk/US relationship during the CivilWar. Shows how closely the 2 were still linked, but the angle meant chasing too many hares, from high level diplomacy to obscure Brits who volunteered for one side or the other and happened to write a diary or a discoverable letter; made it all rather scattered and hard to follow. " team of Rivals covers an equally vast canvas of the same period more successfully. Schama's Rough Crossing too illuminates the UKUS with better focus and narrative skill at an earlier period. Most interesting is how her picture of Seward differs from Goodwin's; here he appears as a risk-taking tub-thumping machine politician with an Anglophobia problem; in Goodwin he appears as a sophisticated man of culture and the ideal friend and confidant. Is it the same man? ( )
  vguy | Jun 21, 2014 |
I appreciated the capsule biographies of British citizens who volunteered in the armies and navies of both the Union and the Confederacy, but I most enjoyed Foreman's detailed discussion of the two sides' diplomacy vis-a-vis Britain and France throughout the Civil War. Among other things, it fleshed out my pictures of some key leaders of Victorian Britain, such as Lord Palmerston, and of several members of the Adams family, including Henry Adams as a young man. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Excellent subject. Focuses on a wide variety of individuals across the wholespespectrum of activities in the American Civil War period. Makes for a wonderful presentation of some amazing personal interest stories. Also a thorough overview of the diplomatic and strategic concerns that affected the outcome of the war and the following era. It was almost like reading two separate works spliced together. Well worth the read to be exposed to many aspects of this period of American history that are not usually encountered in other Civil War histories. ( )
  jvandehy | Nov 22, 2012 |
A World on Fire is an exhaustive history that covers British involvement all the way through the American Civil War. Diplomatic wrangling on both sides of the ocean, the spin war waged in the British press and several personal accounts from among the hundreds of British citizens who fought on both sides of the Civil War is covered. World on Fire is very thorough and manages to introduce an angle into the American Civil War that has been little noted. ( )
1 vote queencersei | Sep 24, 2012 |
Excellent read. Ms. Foreman has done a good job not only of explaining the mutual views of Americans (and confederates) to the British, but vice versa. Also, a good thumbnail sketch of the military part of the war, and of some of the characters in that grand story. Well done, well worth the read. ( )
2 vote RobertP | Sep 15, 2012 |
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Foreman is excellent on tactics, less good on strategy. She stays at ground level, close to the combatants, which means that the war – best understood from a detached vertical distance – remains a muddle. I ended her long book unsure of why it was fought; I also ended it wondering whether the tangled mess of individual stories, like the simultaneous plots of a Victorian novel, had reached any definite conclusion. I then remembered a visit a while ago to Richmond, Virginia, where, near the state capitol, I came upon a battalion of troops in Confederate uniforms camped out for a battle re-enactment that, complete with blood-curdling rebel yells, was due to take an entire weekend. The civil war did not end in 1865. It rages on, fought not along the Mason-Dixon Line but between red and blue states, or between the patriotic heartland and the effete, expendable east and west coasts.
 
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(Prologue) Washington society adored the Napiers.
For seventy-five years after the War of Independence, the British approach to dealing with the Americans had boiled down to one simple tactic: to be "very civil, very firm, and to go our own way."
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Presents a history of the role of British citizens in the American Civil War that offers insight into the interdependencies of both nations and how the Union worked to block diplomatic relations between England and the Confederacy.

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