Battle Cry of Freedom : The Civil War Era, Paperback

Battle Cry of Freedom : The Civil War Era Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History 'Read it.

It will open your eyes about race history in America.

It will shock you for what it tells you about politics in America today.' Richard Ford 'A remarkably wide-ranging synthesis of the history of the 1850s and the Civil War ...that effectively integrates in one volume social, political and military events from the immediate aftermath of the Mexican War through the sectional strife of the 1850s, the secession movement, and the Civil War ...It is a masterful work' New York Review of Books 'Compellingly readable ...the best one-volume treatment of its subject I have ever come across.

It may be the best ever published ...This is magic' The New York Times This book covers one of the most turbulent periods of the USA's history, from the Mexican War in 1848 to the end of the Civil War in 1865. With a broad historical sweep, it traces the heightening sectional conflict of the 1850s: the growing estrangement of the South and its impassioned defence of slavery; the formation of the Republican Party in the North, with its increasing opposition to slavery; and the struggle over territorial expansion, with its accompanying social tensions and economic expansion.

The whole panorama of the Civil War is captured in these pages, from the military campaign, which is described with vividness, immediacy, a grasp of strategy and logistics, and a keen awareness of the military leaders and the common soldiers involved, to its political and social aspects.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 944 pages, maps, illustrations, bibliography, index
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of the Americas
  • ISBN: 9780140125184



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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1988, the Battlecry of Freedom is a remarkable synthesis of diverse fields by a remarkable historian. The book itself covers two decades of American history, beginning in the 1840s where McPherson examines the tensions created by the Mexican War to the Reconstruction of the 1860s.This approach (the readers is two hundred pages into an eight hundred page book before Fort Sumter is shelled) is central to McPherson's thesis, that the Civil War was the result of the irreconcilabledifferences inherent in a political system that operated under two radically different economic systems. McPherson comes from a background with the civil rights movement and has been criticized for over emphasizing the role of race in the Civil War, which I would argue is missing his point.His point seems to me to be that the war began because of a perceived shift in the balance of power between the North and the South and itwas subsequently transformed by (and in turn transformed) the issue of race. McPherson's broad treatment of the subject is especially valuable for those who've done some reading on the war because it seats conventional battle books within a socio-political context.Another admirable characteristic of the Battle Cry of Freedom is the deftness and humour of the writing. McPherson's prose is clear andclean and he tells a story well, which made Battle Cry a very easy read despite having significantly fewer guns and trumpets than I'm used too.In short, the Battle Cry of Freedom is probably the best single volume history of the Civil War, so if you buy just one book on the subject, make it this one.

Review by

The best one volume edition on the American Civil War, a compelling read that has given me a thirst to read further on the subject that is little known to me

Review by

Great book - very clear account of key events, causes and consequences. Also very 'human' in the telling. Only let down slightly by the poor quality of some of the maps.

Review by

Excellent account. balanced yet thrilling narrative. Lincoln's great humanity emerges: a foxy political maneuverer, yet clear and inflexible about his goals, deep idealism and a sense of humour to boot (some of his jokes made me chuckle e.g., about Grant's favourite whisky and Charles I's head). Other key players (Grant, Sherman, Mclellan, Davis et al made vivid amid all the marching and pincering and slaughtering. Still a mystery why the war was fought at all and with such ferocity. In their last twitches the Confederacy even consider ditching slavery in order to keep their "liberty"; one of those ironies of human nature when cornered. But why was the North so keen to keep the Union? And willing to die by the hundreds of thousands to do so? Not for the "niggers" that's pretty clear, since much of the Northern opinion stood between indifference and.outright racism Good account of the economics and logistics of the war; the South could never have won, but could have gone on making trouble indefinitely. Edition could do with more and clearer maps