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He also assesses the structures of leadership and the quality of leaders in the Federal Government and in the Confederate states. Lincoln had to contend with political rivals and war opponents, worry over whether foreign nations might recognize the Confederacy, defend his Emancipation Proclamation from critics, and agonize over whether he would ever find an effective general to break the southern army and restore the union.

Jefferson Davis had the challenge of winning the cooperation of the wildly independent Confederate states to raise sufficient armies, produce enough food, clothes and armaments, and agree on strategy and tactics. Battle Cry of Freedom is very readable for a nearly page book on nonfiction.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (The Oxford History of the United States, Volume VI [6])

It took me nearly 10 days to read it and it is a fascinating read. It held my interest throughout. I found James McPherson to be a masterful author in this field. I very highly recommend this work. I never cease to be amazed by authors, such as James McPherson, who are able to synthesize an era of such magnitude and consequence into a single volume. And actually pull it off.


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I had always heard that McPherson's work was the standard one-volume treatment of the Civil War, and I now know why. Unlike Foote, McPherson covers much more than the battles. He ably tells the story of post-Mexican War America and all the political battles that were waged before the shooting battles began. Even after the shots on Fort Sumpter, he doesn't neglect that politics continued to affect the decisions made in Washing, Richmond, and the field.

However, McPherson adeptly weaves in most of the major campaigns of the war, and most of the significant battles less famous than Gettysburg and Antietam.

Battle Cry of Freedom The Civil War Era Oxford History of the United States Hardcover by James M

One glaring omission was the absence of any coverage of the campaigns west of the Mississippi Valverde, NM, for example. Due to the need to fit into one volume, much of the "character development" is missing. This didn't bother me too much because Shelby Foote does this masterfully. However, if you haven't read Foote, you miss much of the human element of the War. This book is worth reading by anyone with an interest in the Civil War, regardless of how much other reading one has done. Closing notes: The argument that the South was not fighting for slavery has always been ridiculous to me.

Chapters should put that argument to rest definitively, but I know that will never be the case. A great quote from Frederick Olmsted on Surgeon General Clement Finley: "He knows nothing, and does nothing, and is capable of knowing nothing and doing nothing but quibble about matters of form and precedent. All I distinctly recollect about the case of Charles I, is, that he lost his head.

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 and how much military success made a difference to his reelection chances.


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  • 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.

    Contradictory complaints that parts of the book weren't detailed enough while complaining about length.

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    Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era

    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.

    It would not do to argue with the Pulitzer Prize committee. This is a superb work. I am a Canadian, and do not have an internalized sense of the Civil War. This book with remarkable brevity and clarity gave me a good sense of what the war was about, how it was waged, and why it went the way it did. McPherson can write, he seems pretty fair - not with too north or south a bias - and he left me with the best bibliography I'll ever get of the Civil War. A must read. Here at Walmart.

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    There was a problem with saving your item s for later. You can go to cart and save for later there. Average rating: 4. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Add to Cart. Arrives by Friday, Sep It may actually be the best ever published I was swept away, feeling as if I had never heard the saga before Omitting nothing important, whether military, political, or economic, he yet manages to make everything he touches drive the narrative forward. This is historical writing of the highest order.

    Author note

    I certainly will adopt it again when I teach my Honors course next time. The students found the book well organized and instructive in the way events were presented. James M. Toggle navigation. New to eBooks. How many copies would you like to buy? Add to Cart Add to Cart. Add to Wishlist Add to Wishlist. 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.