Drawn with the Sword

Drawn with the Sword : Reflections on the American Civil War

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This series of essays reveal McPherson's profound knowedge of the Civil War and of the controversies among historians that have existed about aspects of it. He is eminently fair in stating the opposing arguments in each of these controversies, but his own measured opinions are always clearly stated and are invariably persuasive.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 148.8 x 217.7 x 25.7mm | 507.6g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195096797
  • 9780195096798

Back cover copy

Filled with fresh interpretations, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Drawn With the Sword explores such questions as why the North won and why the South lost (emphasizing the role of contingency in the Northern victory), whether Southern or Northern aggression began the war, and who really freed the slaves, Abraham Lincoln or the slaves themselves. McPherson offers memorable portraits of the great leaders who people the landscape of the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant, struggling to write his memoirs with the same courage and determination that marked his successes on the battlefield; Robert E. Lee, a brilliant general and a true gentleman, yet still a product of his time and place; and Abraham Lincoln, the leader and orator whose mythical figure still looms large over our cultural landscape. And McPherson discusses often-ignored issues such as the development of the Civil War into a modern "total war" against both soldiers and civilians, and the international impact of the American Civil War in advancing the cause of republicanism and democracy in countries from Brazil and Cuba to France and England. Of special interest is the final essay, entitled "What's the Matter With History?", a trenchant critique of the field of history today, which McPherson describes here as "more and more about less and less". He writes that professional historians have abandoned narrative history written for the greater audience of educated general readers in favor of impenetrable tomes on minor historical details which serve only to edify other academics, thus leaving the historical education of the general public to films and television programs such as Glory and Ken Burns's PBS documentary TheCivil War.show more

Review quote

"McPherson takes the latest professional thinking on the war and gives it clear and popular shape."--American Heritage"Not merely is McPherson the leading living historian of the Civil War, but he is a scholar whose knowledge and authority are unsurpassed; when McPherson speaks, even in a minor key, people listen.... McPherson is uniformly interesting and, to the general reader's eternal relief, both lucid and uncondescending."--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post"These essays present some very complex ideas in vigorous, succinct prose. Whether he is discussing the persistent appeal of the Civil War, tracing the manner in which a war of limited goals evolved into the first total war, evaluating competing theories on the causes of the Confederate defeat, or explaining the genesis of Ulysses S. Grant's military strategy, Mr. McPherson is exact, convincing, and judicious.... These pieces provide a lively reminder that the best scholarship is also often a pleasure to read."--The New York Times Book Review"McPherson has compiled a series of thoughtful essays on some of the most thought-provoking questions of the Civil War.... In these essays the author has proven that history can be accurate, informative, and interesting."--Library Journalshow more

About James M. McPherson

James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History at Princeton University where he has taught since 1962. The author of ten books on the Civil War era of American History, he won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1989 for Battle Cry of Freedom.show more

Rating details

252 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 31% (79)
4 43% (109)
3 21% (54)
2 4% (9)
1 0% (1)
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