Battle Cry of Freedom

By James M. McPherson,

Book cover of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

Book description

Now featuring a new Afterword by the author, this handy paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom is without question the definitive 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…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Battle Cry of Freedom as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Beautifully written masterwork on one of the most important wars of the 19th century. It takes the reader from the experience of ordinary soldiers in battle to key debates around the cabinet table, in a rare display of dexterity and understanding of all levels of war. You will enter Grant’s HQ from where he ran the critical Western theater of operations and sit across from Lincoln as he makes the key decision for a hard war that let the Union maximize its resources and win. And you will walk into Lee’s HQ where the Confederacy lost the war in…

From Cathal's list on how wars are won and lost.

Just because a book wins the Pulitzer Prize (1989 in History) doesn’t always mean you will enjoy reading it or be influenced and enlightened by it. But Battle Cry of Freedom is a single volume that masterfully covers the Civil War from its genesis to the conclusion. While an academic, James McPherson (professor at Princeton University) avoids the turgid, scholarly jargon that has plagued many works from academic historians. McPherson’s research is impeccable and his writing is clear, compelling, and covers a variety of topics from the social and political backdrops of the war to the fighting and the military…

From Robert's list on the heart of the American Civil War.

Jim McPherson’s one-volume book about the Civil War is a wonderful read. He provides good context for the background of the war beginning in the 1840s and up through the political crises of the 1850s. He then masterfully tells the story of the war and its unfolding. The book is not specifically about Lincoln, but there is a lot about his leadership. David Donald said years ago that if everything remained the same but you switched Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (the President of the Confederate States of America) the South would have won the war.

This New York Times bestseller is deservedly well known, and like many others, I believe it stands as the best single-volume history of the Civil War. More than a military history, it is a social and cultural documentation of this vital moment in the evolution of the country. Moreover, I love the interdisciplinary tone of the book, one that combines the sensibilities of the Annales School and the precision advocated by Hans Delbrück. An entertaining 900-page military history, it almost subliminally educates the reader on the importance of industry, the impact of $50 bonds and inflation, the influence…

This is hands down the best single-volume history of the Civil War. It’s so much more than a “survey” book. I am not quite sure how McPherson does it, but he manages to convey exceptional detail and nuance while sweeping through a gigantic historical landscape. Anyone interested in the Civil War should start with this book.

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