Battle Cry of Freedom , etc.) weighs in on the Civil War in this compilation of 16 essays, most of which have appea"/>

This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

James M. McPherson, Author . Oxford Univ. $28 (260p) ISBN 978-0-19-531366-6

Prolific and much-honored historian McPherson (Battle Cry of Freedom , etc.) weighs in on the Civil War in this compilation of 16 essays, most of which have appeared in print before—seven of them in The New York Review of Books . Revised and edited for this collection, the essays read like chapters in a smooth narrative that addresses some of the biggest questions of the Civil War: why did it start? why did the South lose? what motivated the men who fought on both sides? how do we evaluate the top leaders—including Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses G. Grant? McPherson goes about answering these and other questions in his usual graceful style, underscored by a thorough grasp of myriad primary and secondary sources on virtually every aspect of the conflict. He forthrightly expresses his opinions while backing them up with well-reasoned arguments, whether challenging the "Lost Cause" argument about why the South lost, or supporting the proposition that it was slavery—and not states' rights—that was the main cause of the war. This strong addition to the massive Civil War canon will appeal to all readers. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
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