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Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom

Shiloh, 1862 (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Winston Groom

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145682,607 (4)1
Title:Shiloh, 1862
Authors:Winston Groom
Info:National Geographic (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Non-Fiction, History, American Civil War, Battle of Shiloh, Johnston, Bragg, Grant, Sherman, and so many more

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Shiloh 1862 by Winston Groom (2012)



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If one is looking for a detailed treatment of the battle, this is not the book. Although it does cover the first day's action, albeit in a general sense, much time is spent in presenting the career of Grant prior to the battle, even going as far back as his youth. Other main characters are treated similarly though not as exhaustively. Curiously, this approach generates an easy-to-read opus that presents the scope and importance of the battle rather nicely but refrains from being pedantic or boring. Though not for the serious historian, it makes a fine introduction to the the strategy and major players in the Western Theater in 1862. ( )
  bobbre | Mar 6, 2017 |
I was attracted to this book due to my interest in the US Civil War and a delightful extended road trip across most of the eastern (north of Virginia) and the western battle sites. Shiloh and Fort Donelson haunted me. The terrain at Shiloh was surely antithetical to combat, hemmed in, hilly and rugged and the terrifying ‘Hornet’s Nest’ dense bush, we were treated to a whole day walking through it in the company of an amazingly knowledgeable guide. Fort Donelson is nearby, also in Tennessee, then referred to as the west, and haunted me for its beauty. It is on the banks of the Cumberland.

I believe the causalities at Shiloh were more than double in the war then to date - and that included Manassas, or Bull Run, depending on one’s sympathies.

Shiloh, or Pittsburgh Landing, was and is still isolated and likely why so well preserved.

This is good book but not great. I have recently read some military history books, around the Pacific campaign in WWII, that were truly wonderful and emotionally gut wrenching. This was, ‘merely’, good. But well worth it.

There are interesting characters that served on those terrible two days at Shiloh - the Welshman Henry Morton Stanley, a lowly Confederate infantryman, who discovered Dr Livingston in modern day Tanzania and the Union general Lew Wallace who wrote ‘Ben Hur’ purportedly based partly on Shiloh.

It’s interesting for me to surmise that while this cataclysm was happening in the ‘united’ States my own adopted country was close to its creation - as a Confederation but remaining a British dominion. I am sure that our key founder, the redoubtable Sir John A, also like USS Grant, a prodigious drinker - liked south and recognized that we, Canada, needed a different form of government. A strong centralized one.

Excuse, my sentimental rambles.

Oh, and visit Shiloh and Donelson. ( )
  martinhughharvey | Jul 11, 2016 |
There was much that I found to enjoy in this book. The author tells a great story using many primary sources to give the reader a good idea of what it was like for the men who fought in the battle of Shiloh. He particularly focuses on the letters and diaries of enlisted men who were in the thick of the fighting.
Shiloh was a very significant battle and much has been written about it. The author points out that there were more casualties in this battle than in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican War combined. The book is about 400 pages and the narrative of the battle starts about one-half way through the book. The introduction to the battle is very helpful to understanding why it was such an important event. One of the stories in the book I enjoyed concerned Grant during the Mexican War. This incident is in Grant's memoirs and told about Grant riding Indian style on the side of a horse as he races through the streets of a small town in Mexico to get ammunition for his men.
In writing about the battle the author emphasizes the lack of training the soldiers had, particularly the Southern soldiers. Many of them had only been in the army a matter of weeks and the fight between the two armies quickly became a "soldier's battle". It resembled a rugby scrum with very little use of battle formations. The Northern soldiers may have had a little more experience but the Confederates made up for it with their experience using a rifle and their savage fighting style.
The Southern commanding general was killed in the afternoon of the first day of the battle. Grant was all over the field that day on the Northern side trying to keep his army together while he was waiting for reinforcements. By the afternoon of the second day the Southern army was described by one of their officers as a wet pile of sugar ready to fall apart. P. G. T. Beauregard, who took command of the Southern army made a decision to take his army off of the field. The description of the battlefield littered with the bodies of dead and wounded men was realistically graphic.
The book was well written and covered many aspects of military life during the Civil War. On the negative side I felt there were some glaring mistakes that make it hard for me to recommend it. The one example that sticks in my mind involves Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the war. The author wrote that Lincoln suspended the Bill of Rights. I find it hard to understand how a mistake like that made it through to publication. There is a lot of difference between the Bill of Rights and the writ of habeas corpus. There were other similar mistakes that make it difficult for me to rely on the rest of what the author wrote and recommend this as a history book. There were statements made by the author that I felt were exaggerated to puff up the importance of the book. The academic world is very competitive and maybe the author tried just a little too hard to make his book attractive to the reader. Maybe I am being too picky. You are welcome to read the book and decide. ( )
1 vote wildbill | Aug 24, 2013 |
A very readable and well organized narrative of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Well documented and researched. Especially readable due to using written accounts of participants as key vehicles.

I will be visiting this battlefield in just over a month. Reading this work will give me perspective and insight. ( )
  labdaddy4 | Jan 17, 2013 |
Good general account of the battle, with some interesting individual stories. Occassional factual errors. ( )
  GeoKaras | Aug 22, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winston Groomprimary authorall editionscalculated
Farris, MelissaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 142620874X, Hardcover)

A main selection in History Book-of-the-Month Club and alternate selection in Military Book-of-the-Month Club.

In the spring of 1862, many Americans still believed that the Civil War, "would be over by Christmas." The previous summer in Virginia, Bull Run, with nearly 5,000 casualties, had been shocking, but suddenly came word from a far away place in the wildernesses of Southwest Tennessee of an appalling battle costing 23,000 casualties, most of them during a single day. It was more than had resulted from the entire American Revolution. As author Winston Groom reveals in this dramatic, heart-rending account, the Battle of Shiloh would singlehandedly change the psyche of the military, politicians, and American people--North and South--about what they had unleashed by creating a Civil War.

In this gripping telling of the first "great and terrible" battle of the Civil War, Groom describes the dramatic events of April 6 and 7, 1862, when a bold surprise attack on Ulysses S. Grant's encamped troops and the bloody battle that ensued would alter the timbre of the war.

The Southerners struck at dawn on April 6th, and Groom vividly recounts the battle that raged for two days over the densely wooded and poorly mapped terrain. Driven back on the first day, Grant regrouped and mounted a fierce attack the second, and aided by the timely arrival of reinforcements managed to salvage an encouraging victory for the Federals.

Groom's deft prose reveals how the bitter fighting would test the mettle of the motley soldiers assembled on both sides, and offer a rehabilitation of sorts for Union General William Sherman, who would go on from the victory at Shiloh to become one of the great generals of the war. But perhaps the most alarming outcome, Groom poignantly reveals, was the realization that for all its horror, the Battle of Shiloh had solved nothing, gained nothing, proved nothing, and the thousands of maimed and slain were merely wretched symbols of things to come.

With a novelist's eye for telling and a historian's passion for detail, context, and meaning, Groom brings the key characters and moments of battle to life. Shiloh is an epic tale, deftly told by a masterful storyteller.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:28 -0400)

In this gripping telling of the first "great and terrible" battle of the Civil War, Groom describes the dramatic events of April 6 and 7, 1862, when a bold surprise attack on Ulysses S. Grant's encamped troops and the bloody battle that ensued would alter the timbre of the war.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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