The American Civil War, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


The United States saw long-simmering sectional tensions erupt into fighting at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861, beginning what would become the most cataclysmic military struggle in the western world between Waterloo and the First World War.

This book, with a new foreword by Professor James McPherson, traces the course of the war in both Eastern and Western theatres, looking at strategic, geographical and logistic factors as well as the soldiers, officers, and civilians who were caught up in the conflict.

During the four years of war at least 620,000 soldiers and sailors died in bloody fighting at more than 10,000 recorded battles, engagements and skirmishes.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages, 100 colour & 100 b&w illustrations
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of the Americas
  • ISBN: 9781841767369

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This book is a collection of four separate volumes in Osprey's Essential Histories series; The War in the East 1861 – 1863, The War in the West 1861 – 1863, The War in the East 1863 – 1865 and The Warin the West 1863 – 1865.Presented in the usual Osprey style, it's an easy read and illustrated with period photographs, pictures, contemporary artwork (mostly by DonTroiani) and a sheaf of maps. Given that I judge military history books on their maps, mainly as I can rarely make sense of a written account of a battle without one, I'd rate the book fairly highly on that basis alone.The book covers the whole war with varying degrees of detail, with the emphasis most definitely on the operational side of things. There areseveral sections on the home front both in the North and the South, the political situation and the experiences of slaves and non-combatants, but for the most part the big battalions, battles andgenerals are the stars of the show.That said, the book covers that aspect of the war very well and manages to tell a complex, multi-layered story with clarity, which isno mean feat. I find the separation of the war into two distinct theatres artificial from the point of view of the narrative as eachtheatre influenced the other greatly, but the authors do a workmanlike job of relating the two to each other and keeping the whole narrativeflowing in the minds eye within the limitations of that structure.Rounded off with a comprehensive index and a relatively short bibliography (with a few surprising absences), "This Mighty Scourge ofWar" is a fine introduction to the American Civil War. But it is exactly that, an introduction, a careful searcher* could probably findmost of this information on the internet, and a genuine Civil War buff is not going to find anything new here.On the other hand, the newcomer is not going to find a more visually appealing or friendly introduction to the period.*And one who can stand reading their history from a computer screen which I'm less and less willing to do as I grow older.

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