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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars North against South, May 1 2010
By 
J. C. Mareschal (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
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The American civil war is often seen as the first modern war. It saw many battles where thousands of infantry man, charging a well entrenched enemy, would be slaughtered by the fire of powerful rifles. There were no machine guns yet, but this war gave a foretaste of the murderous battles to be fought in Flanders during WW I. It also saw a war fought on the scale of half a continent, a war that neither side could win in a single battle. Like the wars of the twentieth century, it turned into a war of attrition that the Confederacy had no hope to win.

North and South were set on a course to war, and both Union and the Confederacy engaged in the war with enthusiasm, but neither side had prepared for this war. Before deciding to lead the army of Virginia, Robert Lee had been offered the command of the Army of the Union. The Confederate generals, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, were to lead a very successful defensive war in Virginia, but they never could device a winning strategy for the South. In the meantime, the campaign west of the Appalachians allowed the rise of brilliant generals, like Grant and Sherman, for the Union. Grant, who hated wars, was nonetheless determined to fight. His victory at Vicksburg, one day after Gettysburg, insured the control of the Mississippi river for the Union and cut the Confederacy in two. It opened to Sherman the road of Atlanta and Savannah. From then on, it was only a question of time for the Union army to reach Richmond.

This book on the American civil war demonstrates why John Keegan is rightfully considered the best military historian today. Not only, does he provide a crystal clear analysis of the development of the war, but he also makes the reader feel what the men who fought this war, the Johnny Rebs or the Billy Yanks, felt. The reader can almost hear the sound of gunfire, feel the hunger and the cold, and wonder with John Keegan what kept those men fighting for four long years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keegan has done it again, March 16 2012
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Happy shopper (Vancouver BC Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The American Civil War: A Military History (Paperback)
This book is as much a review of political economy in the mid 19th century USA, as it is a military history of the American Civil War. It is a must-read for any serious student of the history of USA. Keegan explains how the war created, or directly anticipated, all modern USA institutions and politics, and how it set in motion social changes that are still a work-in-progress today. Although it was the last major war fought with highly accurate and powerful muzzle-loaded rifles, albeit with a limited rate of fire, the enormous Confederate and Union losses anticipated those of the First World War - yet European generals learned almost nothing from it. May the Americans never have to go through this again. My one complaint is this: the format of the book is smaller that other Keegan's books I have, and the size of the font is too small - I had to use a bright light and a magnifying glass now and then. Still, this is not a one-pass-through book; put it in your library, you will keep coming back to it for years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Competent and authoritative, surprisingly dull for all that, May 3 2010
By 
Rodge (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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Keegan has provided a fully realized and masterful account of the Civil War. He obviously knows his history and is able to draw connections between what happened in the Civil War and how it foreshadowed the fighting in the First World War among other things.

I was surprised, however, at how much narrative momentum was wasted in extended analyses and meditations on different aspects of the war. Keegan is less interested in telling the story of the war than telling a story about what the war means, which has its benefits, but also results in unnecessary dullness in a popular history in my opinion.

His insights on why the Civil War didn't lead to socialism gaining a strong hold in America were quite interesting, though and there is enough of that sort of thing to make this worth reading, despite the occasional dull and perhaps self-indulgent passage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The American Civil War: A Military History, April 5 2011
This review is from: The American Civil War: A Military History (Paperback)
Just a few words on how much I enjoyed reading this book.

Extremely well written and organized, it both takes the reader on a unique trip through the War from its various competing participants' perspectives, and optimizes the splendid research done in creating the journey and presenting the weighty insights which Mr. Keegan has to offer.

Job Well Done!
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The American Civil War: A Military History
The American Civil War: A Military History by John Keegan (Paperback - Dec 7 2010)
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