Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction

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Oxford University Press, USA, May 18, 2012 - History - 576 pages
2 Reviews
The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges. In Fateful Lightning, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South. Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.

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User Review  - wildbill - LibraryThing

I read a very good book by this author about the battle of Gettysburg last year and was looking forward to this volume. I was somewhat disappointed at first but as I got a better idea what the author ... Read full review

FATEFUL LIGHTNING: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Lincoln Prize winner Guelzo (Civil War Era Studies/Gettysburg Coll.; Lincoln, 2011, etc.) offers a broad, readable history of the Civil War.As late as the 1830s, writes the author, the United States ... Read full review


1 A Nation Announcing Itself
2 The Game of Balances
3 Year of Meteors
The East and Emancipation 18611862
East and West 18621863
6 The Soldiers Tale
7 The Manufacture of War
East and West 1863
9 World Turned Upside Down
10 Stalemate and Triumph
11 A Dim Shore Ahead
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About the author (2012)

Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, both of which won the Lincoln Prize. His most recent books on Lincoln and the Civil War era are Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction.

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