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Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

Battle Cry of Freedom (original 1988; edition 1988)

by James McPherson

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4,044591,793 (4.44)255
Title:Battle Cry of Freedom
Authors:James McPherson
Info:Oxford (1988), Edition: First Printing, Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson (Author) (1988)

  1. 40
    Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 by Ulysses S. Grant (wildbill)
    wildbill: This is the Library of America edition of Grant's memoirs which I think is preferable. Any edition of Grant's memoirs will be informative and enjoyable.
  2. 20
    A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton (wcfreels)
    wcfreels: Just finished it for the first time last week. Best read on the Civil War I've ever read. So well written that, unlike the soldiers, I hated to see it end.
  3. 10
    In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 by Edward L. Ayers (eromsted)
  4. 01
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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

Battle Cry of Freedom was lauded as the best single volume history of the American Civil War available. Having now completed it, I think this an accurate summary. While I lack the depth of knowledge vis-a-vis my father (A Civil War aficionado), the amount I picked up about the war via osmosis is decent. Battle Cry of Freedom does an excellent job of synthesizing the political and military aspects of the war. As a result, it leads to a much better understanding of how some battles, like the first Bull Run, were not terribly important militarily but hugely important politically to the war. This timing piece, as it related to the political mood is important. I had not fully grasped how Lincoln had expected to be denied reelection in 1864 and how much military success made a difference to his reelection chances. Similarly, while the battle of Gettysburg is easy to understand as a military success, the combination of that battle with the simultaneous fall of Vicksburg, both on July 4, marked a major turning point in the war especially in terms of morale. Battle Cry of Freedom presents the war as one long narrative of a struggle over slavery and puts all of the aspects of the conflict into context with one another.

I have a few complaints but they are minor particularly in terms of the scope and purpose of the book. 1) It is a long book - 850 pages of fairly dense prose and 2) the heroics of the First Minnesota get little more than a paragraph. See? Contradictory complaints that parts of the book weren't detailed enough while complaining about length. It is a comprehensive history of a critical time and thus some things are necessarily truncated to cover other issues. No author can meet both prongs as one necessarily excludes the other.

Bottom line, this is a very good history that, surprisingly, is very current to many of our political discussions. But, even if it wasn't timely, Battle Cry of Freedom deserves to be read as a masterful history of a transformative period in American history. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Oberon | Dec 29, 2018 |
This was the first book for our Less Stupid Civil War Reading Group. The reading list suggested by Ta-Nehisi Coates. To be honest, I was a little (a lot) intimidated. I probably never would have gotten around to reading this had we not been inspired by the Coates article to start this group. But once I started, I actually loved it.

McPherson is a great author who clearly is deeply invested in and knowledgable about his subject matter, and isn't afraid to use his expansive vocabulary to full effect here. (A regular feature of our group chats was what new words we'd learned from reading this book.) We also really appreciated his transparency -- in many issues he would acknowledge that there were several varying opinions, give the reasons for each, and then give the reasons he favored his own interpretation.

This is a massive story about a long, chaotic, and heated period of our nation's history. McPherson does his best to bring in as much context as possible -- setting up the stage before the war, including other societal changes happening at the time, and of course explaining the battles, the politics, the economy, and the reactions of major world forces.

It seems like if you read these nine billion pages, you'd feel like you got the full scope of the period. But of course I came out of this book with a list of things I need to know more about. I guess it's a good thing that this is only the first book for our group. ( )
  greeniezona | Jun 24, 2018 |
I picked this up for context and found it to be a very engaging read, though lengthy. ( )
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
This book is an amazing treat. There really isn't much more to say. It is a highly readable, fast paced journey through our Civil War years. This masterpiece should be required reading at the High School and College levels. As Shelby Foote said: "Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us." Highly recommended ( )
  Mitchell_Bergeson_Jr | Aug 6, 2017 |
History, they say, is written by the victors. The function of the modern historian, I would argue, is to present a more balanced view of history, working with all the evidence available to him/her at the time.

An supreme example of this approach is McPherson's one volume history of the American Civil war. Wide-ranging, easy to read and well balanced, he tells the tale of those violent, tragic fours years in prose that springs off the page. This is no dry history book.

McPherson sets the scene for the events of the Civil War by focussing on the political and social structures and events of the preceding decade. This is a vital part of the story as it shows the growing tensions in American society between those who see slavery as an abomination and those who see it as God's will and the best way to treat the "black man".

The old political order is indeed dead by the election of 1860 as the Whig party self destructs and the Republican Party rises to fill the void and provide America with one of its greatest Presidents - Abraham Lincoln. What McPherson shows though, is that Lincoln was considered the dark horse amongst the potential candidates and at first was not considered the right man to lead a country into war. What amazed me is that, given the current state of the Democrat and Republican parties, it was the Democrats who were the standard bearers for inequality and slavery. How times change.

But war changes not only men, but countries also. And that was the case with the Civil War. Throughout the book, told in narrative fashion, McPherson switches between battlefield successes and disasters and political developments that shaped the story of the War. He paints detailed pictures of the major players such as Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Grant, Lee, McClellan, Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and more. Men who were shaped by war and who either rose to the challenge or were buckled by it. Throughout he keeps a balanced view, showing the motivations of both sides and the outcomes of the actions the generals took.

This is a difficult, complicated tale, full of loyalties to old values and sweeping change as society reshaped itself in the aftermath of the struggle. But McPherson is equal to the task and this is one of the best history books I have ever read. What becomes clear is that both sides thought they were fighting for what was "right". The difference is that one vision was clinging to an antiquated past, while the other became a vision for a new kind of nation. Before the war the term "United States" meant just that, a collection of individual states. After the war it came to mean the nation as a whole.

The Civil War shaped modern America. The seeds of its industrial and military dominance over the following century were sown in the blood and mud of the Southern heartlands. If you want to know how it happened, read this book. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McPherson, James M.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Woodward, C. VannIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Van and Willie

and to the memory of

Glenn and Bill

Who introduced me to the world of history and academia in the good old days at Hopkins
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Both sides in the American Civil War professed to be fighting for freedom. (Preface)
On the morning of September 14, 1847, brilliant sunshine burned off the haze in Mexico City.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (53)

16th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment

20th Indiana Infantry Regiment

21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

29th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

68th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Appomattox Campaign

Camp Douglas (Chicago)

Caning of Charles Sumner

Chambersburg Raid

Confederate Memorial (Wilmington, North Carolina)

Daniel H. Reynolds

Dix–Hill Cartel

Josiah Gorgas

List of American Civil War generals

List of American Civil War generals (Union)

List of publications by James M. McPherson

Military medicine

Militia Act of 1862

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 019516895X, Paperback)

Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with an admirable thoroughness. He covers the military aspects of the war in all of the necessary detail, and also provides a helpful framework describing the complex economic, political, and social forces behind the conflict. Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, this fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War: the Dred Scott decision: the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. It then moves into a chronicle of the war itself, the battles, the strategic maneuvering on both sides, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are new views on such matters as the slavery expansion issue in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union's victory.The book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both the Northern and Southern views of the conflict: the South seceded in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark of American liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war--slavery--and adopt a policy of emancipation as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes the proudest legacy of America's bloodiest conflict.This volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Recorded Books

2 editions of this book were published by Recorded Books.

Editions: 1461813808, 1461813816

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