The Civil War obliterated America’s past, along with many of the founders’ visions of what America should be. Replacing those visions was the America that we have today. Any true understanding of America, both past and present, must include a specific understanding of this conflict.
This work traces the entire story of the conflict in a concise month-by-month summary. In addition to all the major events that shaped the war, key facts that have disappeared from most mainstream texts are also included, such as:
- Both Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis lost young sons during the war
- The legendary Robert E. Lee faced intense southern criticism for military failures in the war’s first year
- Most southerners believed that slavery would die a natural death over time, as it had in most other Western Hemisphere nations
- President Lincoln was required to testify before Congress that Mrs. Lincoln was not a traitor for having brothers who fought for the Confederacy
- Jefferson Davis was routinely criticized in the South for centralizing and growing government, which was exactly what had prompted the southern states to secede in the first place
- U.S. forces battled the Sioux Indians during the war, leading to the largest mass execution in American history
- The Emancipation Proclamation was merely a symbolic gesture that technically freed no slaves at all
- The Republican Party capitalized on the absence of southern opposition by enacting virtually its entire political and economic agenda during the war
- A former Ohio congressman was banished to the South by Lincoln for opposing the war
Also included is a thought-provoking introduction explaining that the true cause of the war was not slavery, but rather the cause of most conflicts throughout history: money and politics. An afterword also explains that the end of slavery was only one of the most lasting legacies of the war. The other was the end of state checks on federal power, which has led to an ever-growing federal government that continues to this day.
Facts are explored and myths are exposed as the conflict is put in its proper chronological and historical perspective. The war nearly destroyed America, and it has pervaded American politics, society, and culture ever since. For anyone seeking a general resource guide to the seminal event in American history, this is essential reading.
Walter Coffey is a graduate of both Joliet Junior College and Loyola University of Chicago. He is an historian and an award-winning author of works pertaining to both the Civil War and American history. Residing in Texas with his wife Gianna, Walter can be contacted at WalterCoffey.com.
One of the things I love about the book is that it truly educates me. Everyone knows about the Civil War, right? Well, in a way, sure. We all know it had something to do with "slavery and stuff." I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I've always felt I was sort of short-changing the sacrifices of the past in not knowing more than that. Coffey's book, I'm happy to say, has helped relieve my ignorance and guilt, admirably.
Here's a book for history buffs and laymen alike. Mr. Coffey takes us through the entirety of the Civil War, starting from the initial secession until the war's conclusion and assassination of Lincoln. Other books have done this, sure, but Coffey's approach is nothing short of brilliant. What he does is take each month and drill down into each of them, allowing one chapter for each month, exposing the history-moving motivations and conflict with the care for detail and accuracy that it deserves. His pacing is superb.
There's a sense of motion you don't often see in history books. I think if more history books were written with this consideration for the reader then they'd sell more.
The details within each month are divided into nice sub-chapters, which make it a much easier read.
The author has obviously done extensive research and is well versed in the conflict. I would recommend this not only to Civil War enthusiasts, but even to high schools and colleges as a textbook for studying the war.