The War That Forged A Nation

The War That Forged A Nation

Why the Civil War Still Matters

Book - 2015
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"Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson considers why the Civil War retains such a hold on our national psyche and identity. Though the drama and tragedy of the subject, from the war's scope and size--an estimated death toll of 750,000, far more than all the rest of the country's wars combined--to the nearly mythical individuals involved--Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson--help explain why the Civil War remains so popular among historians, it does not entirely explain why the war still matters to us today. Through twelve essays, McPherson dissects this question, exploring the war's impact across many dimensions of American life. The essays consider variously the war's causes and consequences; the morality and cost of the war in comparative context; the naval war; slavery and its abolition; and Abraham Lincoln as emancipator, political leader, and commander in chief, among many other topics. Ultimately, McPherson illuminates the impossibility of understanding the issues of our own time unless we first understand their roots in the era of the Civil War: slavery and its abolition; the conflict between the North and South; the struggle between state sovereignty and the federal government; the role of government in social change-these issues, McPherson shows, are as salient and controversial today as they were in the 1860s."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780199375776
Characteristics: x, 219 pages ;,25 cm

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tadashichew
Jan 22, 2017

An efficient, informative, and well-written collection of essays that covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from the role of the Union Navy, the relationship between Lincoln and his generals, and the shortcomings of reconstruction. However, the absence of a unifying thesis or cohesive narrative leaves the disparate topics as disconnected as the country they describe, and the question of why the Civil War still matters goes largely unanswered.

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