Fateful Lightning : A New History of the Civil War & Reconstruction
Overview - The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. Read more...
More About Fateful Lightning by Allen C. Guelzo
The Civil War is the greatest trauma ever experienced by the American nation, a four-year paroxysm of violence that left in its wake more than 600,000 dead, more than 2 million refugees, and the destruction (in modern dollars) of more than $700 billion in property. The war also sparked some of the most heroic moments in American history and enshrined a galaxy of American heroes. Above all, it permanently ended the practice of slavery and proved, in an age of resurgent monarchies, that a liberal democracy could survive the most frightful of challenges.
In Fateful Lightning
, two-time Lincoln Prize-winning historian Allen C. Guelzo offers a marvelous portrait of the Civil War and its era, covering not only the major figures and epic battles, but also politics, religion, gender, race, diplomacy, and technology. And unlike other surveys of the Civil War era, it extends the reader's vista to include the postwar Reconstruction period and discusses the modern-day legacy of the Civil War in American literature and popular culture. Guelzo also puts the conflict in a global perspective, underscoring Americans' acute sense of the vulnerability of their republic in a world of monarchies. He examines the strategy, the tactics, and especially the logistics of the Civil War and brings the most recent historical thinking to bear on emancipation, the presidency and the war powers, the blockade and international law, and the role of intellectuals, North and South.
Written by a leading authority on our nation's most searing crisis, Fateful Lightning
offers a vivid and original account of an event whose echoes continue with Americans to this day.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in:
- Review Date:
One of the most complex and defining periods of American history is exhaustively chronicled in this readable volume. Guelzo (Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction), a Gettysburg College Civil War historian and professor, begins by discussing the earliest sectional tussles that shaped the U.S. as its founders tried to pull together a new national government, and concludes by exploring how America's bloodiest and most divisive struggle shaped the postwar perspectives of Southerners, Northerners, and newly-freed slaves. In between, Guelzo conducts an accessible investigation of the incredibly nuanced conflict, commenting on the actual battles, relevant contemporary issues, and its global context. The author maintains that if it had not been for westward expansion and the eradication of slavery in the North, the two sections of the country and their distinct economic systems—one based on slave labor and the other on large-scale factory workforces—might have continued to uneasily co-exist. The obligatory portraits of involved parties are familiar—Guelzo portrays a hapless James Buchanan, a melancholic Abraham Lincoln, and the impressive commanders Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—and the author deftly balances politics with engaging detail. Civil War aficionados and those looking for a sterling introduction will find plenty to enjoy in Guelzo's newest. Illus. (May)