7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kelsey May Dangelo
- Published on Amazon.com
What were the causes of the Civil War? Some say slavery. Others that is was state's rights vs. preserving the union. But what about the soldiers, the enlisted men who fought the war, what did they think? Were they as racist as we now perceive? Were they fighting for their homes? For their country? Why did our country fight it's most horrific, most bloody war for four long years, amongst itself? What possibly could start and sustain such a conflict? Historians, history books, modern thinking have all created certain perceptions of the war, and, for the most part, tried to rewrite history to make it more comfortable to us.
This brilliant, magnificently thorough book is an examination of the thoughts and attitudes of the enlisted soldiers of the Civil War, Union and Confederate, black and white, as represented in their letters, diaries, essays, newsletters, and other writings. Manning investigates their opinions on the causes and purposes of the war and slavery, which are one in the same. She brilliantly delves into how those opinions, thoughts, and attitudes were formed by the differing societies of the North and the South (particularly their religious beliefs, their societal demands, and class and gender roles), how this civil war would form a new definition of the United States.
The Civil War, in four horrific years, absolutely revolutionized thought and society in the United States. Our country fought it's most bloody, most horrific war, not only amongst itself, but due to racism. It is a shocking horror that racism can not only be that entrenched, but that motivating of a force. A force that can cause a Civil War between the ideals of equality and freedom and the personal desires for safety, success, and preservation of loved ones. This is a Civil War that rages in every person, in every society.
I have never read any Civil War (and, perhaps any historical nonfiction) book this engaging and fascinating. Every page is underlined and starred; the back cover is filled with notes. Everyone I know has gotten an ear-full of this book. Not only is this book everything that anyone interested in the Civil War could desire, with its brilliant and fascinating information and exploration of the psychology and sociology of the time (with its wonderful focus on the enlisted soldier), but it is something every American should read to understand how our society should work and how it once horrifically failed. Furthermore, it is a book that every human should read. Our country went through a Civil War that stands for the Civil War within every human being: that between the desires for the personal freedoms to provide for the self and family, and the desire to fight for greater ideals for a better society, the civil war between the personal and the societal. Grade: A++