A timely reconsideration of "just war," this landmark history closely examines the moral underpinnings of the Civil War, drawing on a fascinating ...Show synopsisA timely reconsideration of "just war," this landmark history closely examines the moral underpinnings of the Civil War, drawing on a fascinating array of letters, sermons, diaries, and battle photographs.Hide synopsis
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This is an outstanding book. It wrestles with the question of why the war was fought, and how attitudes on both sides evolved during the war. Its thesis, that the war was about the Union and not slavery, is not original, but it is well argued.
My criticisms would be that it goes a bit too far in trying to be fair to Southern slaveholders and those who fought and died for their "right" to own, torture and rape slaves; perhaps understandable in an author from deep in Yankee territory (Yale). A lesser criticism would be numerous details that most civil war buffs would catch immediately: during the battle of Shiloh, the Southerners threatened but never closely approached Pittsburgh Landing (which was distant from the famed "Peach Orchard"). Stout also makes an uncited judgment against Lincoln's "micromanagement" of the war in the East. One might conclude that he is defending McClellan's generalship, but elsewhere in the book the future Presidential candidate's inadequacies, as well as his political opinions are explored in depth.
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