In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2004 - History - 472 pages
16 Reviews
Our standard Civil War histories tell a reassuring story of the triumph, in an inevitable conflict, of the dynamic, free-labor North over the traditional, slave-based South, vindicating the freedom principles built into the nation's foundations.

But at the time, on the borderlands of Pennsylvania and Virginia, no one expected war, and no one knew how it would turn out. The one certainty was that any war between the states would be fought in their fields and streets.

Edward L. Ayers gives us a different Civil War, built on an intimate scale. He charts the descent into war in the Great Valley spanning Pennsylvania and Virginia. Connected by strong ties of every kind, including the tendrils of slavery, the people of this borderland sought alternatives to secession and war. When none remained, they took up war with startling intensity. As this book relays with a vivid immediacy, it came to their doorsteps in hunger, disease, and measureless death. Ayers's Civil War emerges from the lives of everyday people as well as those who helped shape history--John Brown and Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Jackson, and Lee. His story ends with the valley ravaged, Lincoln's support fragmenting, and Confederate forces massing for a battle at Gettysburg.
  

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Review: In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America 1859-1863

User Review  - Ted Hunt - Goodreads

Does one get the essence of a tapestry by looking at it from across the room or by examining it up close? This engrossing examination of the Civil War era (1859-1863) takes the second approach. It ... Read full review

Review: In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America 1859-1863

User Review  - Jordan - Goodreads

Very interesting read. Great insight into the mindset of the nation by focusing on two border counties in both Virginia and Pennsylvania. Packed with information, this book does a wonderful job of ... Read full review

Contents

GREEN PASTURES AND STILL WATERS
1
PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
93
THE SHADOW OF DEATH
189
THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES
277
Coda
416
Notes
419
Acknowledgments
455
Index
459
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Edward L. Ayers is President of the University of Richmond and Professor of History. His book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, won the Bancroft Prize in 2004.

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