Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War. James McPherson's 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--and then moves into a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic maneuvering on both sides, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson's 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 authoritative 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.
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For those of you who think they hate history... this is how it should be written.
The mistake many an author makes in relating history is to treat it as facts, as a logical progression of this-caused-that. What McPherson does here, to staggering effect, is to relate the material in a narrative fashion, bringing the era and the personages within it to life. Themes are introduced and developed, conflicts explained and expanded, historical figures speak passionately and unironically about their beliefs so that the reader almost wishes they didn't already know how the story ends--and sometimes even gets caught up enough to forget. The facts and dates are all still there, but Battle Cry of Freedom feels closer to a novel than a history text.
In short, while not slacking on detail or oversimplifying for the sake of convenience, McPherson breathes such vitality into the great epic of American history. Some have compared the Civil War to the Illiad, likening the exploits of Lee and Grant to those of Achilles and Hector. If such a telling appeals to you, give this book a try.
2 Mexico Will Poison Us
3 An Empire for Slavery
4 Slavery Rum and Romanism
5 The Crime Against Kansas
6 Mudsills and Greasy Mechanics for A Lincoln
7 The Revolution of 1860
8 The Counterrevolution of 1861
The Upper Souths Dilemma
18 John Bulls Virginia Reel
19 Three Rivers in Winter 18621863
20 Fire in the Rear
The Summer of 63
22 Johnny Rebs Chattanooga Blues
23 When This Cruel War Is Over
24 If It Takes All Summer
25 After Four Years of Failure
10 Amateurs Go to War
11 Farewell to the Ninety Days War
The SaltWater War 18611862
13 The River War in 1862
14 The Sinews of War
15 Billy Yanks Chickahominy Blues
16 We Must Free the Slaves or Be Ourselves Subdued
17 Carry Me Back to Old Virginny