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.

The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

By Alexander Rose,

Book cover of The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

Alexander Rose Author Of Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men's Epic Duel to Rule the World

New book alert!

Who am I?

A long time ago, I was an early-aviation historian, but eventually realized that I knew only half the story—the part about airplanes. But what about airships? Initially, I assumed, like so many others, that they were a flash-in-the-pan, a ridiculous dead-end technology, but then I realized these wondrous giants had roamed and awed the world for nearly four decades. There was a bigger story here of an old rivalry between airplanes and airships, one that had since been forgotten, and Empires of the Sky was the result.

Alexander's book list on Zeppelin airships

What is my book about?

From the author of Washington’s Spies, the thrilling story of two rival secret agents — one Confederate, the other Union — sent to Britain during the Civil War.

The South’s James Bulloch, charming and devious, was ordered to acquire a clandestine fleet intended to break Lincoln’s blockade, sink Northern merchant vessels, and drown the U.S. Navy’s mightiest ships at sea. Opposing him was Thomas Dudley, an upright Quaker lawyer determined to stop Bulloch in a spy-versus-spy game of move and countermove, gambit and sacrifice, intrigue and betrayal.

Their battleground was the Dickensian port of Liverpool, whose dockyards built more ships each year than the rest of the world combined and whose merchant princes, said one observer, were “addicted to Southern proclivities, foreign slave trade, and domestic bribery.”

The Lion and the Fox: Two Rival Spies and the Secret Plot to Build a Confederate Navy

By Alexander Rose,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Washington's Spies, the thrilling story of the Confederate spy who came to Britain to turn the tide of the Civil War-and the Union agent resolved to stop him.

"Entertaining and deeply researched...with a rich cast of spies, crooks, bent businessmen and drunken sailors...Rose relates the tale with gusto." -The New York Times

In 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, two secret agents-one a Confederate, the other his Union rival-were dispatched to neutral Britain, each entrusted with a vital mission.

The South's James Bulloch, charming and devious, was to acquire…


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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