The War That Forged A Nation

The War That Forged A Nation

Why the Civil War Still Matters

Book - 2015
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More than 140 years ago, Mark Twain observed that the Civil War had "uprooted institutions that were centuries old, changed the politics of a people, transformed the social life of half the country, and wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character that the influence cannot bemeasured short of two or three generations." In fact, five generations have passed, and Americans are still trying to measure the influence of the immense fratricidal conflict that nearly tore the nation apart. In The War that Forged a Nation, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson considers why the Civil War remains so deeply embedded in our national psyche and identity. The drama and tragedy of the war, from its scope and size - an estimated death toll of 750,000, far more than the rest ofthe country's wars combined - to the nearly mythical individuals involved - Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson - help explain why the Civil War remains a topic of interest. But the legacy of the war extends far beyond historical interest or scholarly attention. Here, McPherson drawsupon his work over the past fifty years to illuminate the war's continuing resonance across many dimensions of American life. Touching upon themes that include the war's causes and consequences; the naval war; slavery and its abolition; and Lincoln as commander in chief, McPherson ultimately proves the impossibility of understanding the issues of our own time unless we first understand their roots in the era of the CivilWar. From racial inequality and conflict between the North and South to questions of state sovereignty or the role of government in social change - these issues, McPherson shows, are as salient and controversial today as they were in the 1860s. Thoughtful, provocative, and authoritative, The War that Forged a Nation looks anew at the reasons America's civil war has remained a subject of intense interest for the past century and a half, and affirms the enduring relevance of the conflict for America today.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2015]
ISBN: 9780199375776
0199375771
Characteristics: x, 219 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Why the Civil War still matters
Call Number: 973.71 MCP

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tadashichew
Jan 22, 2017

An efficient, informative, and well-written collection of essays that covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from the role of the Union Navy, the relationship between Lincoln and his generals, and the shortcomings of reconstruction. However, the absence of a unifying thesis or cohesive narrative leaves the disparate topics as disconnected as the country they describe, and the question of why the Civil War still matters goes largely unanswered.

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