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FIELDS OF FURY by James M. McPherson


The American Civil War

by James M. McPherson

Age Range: 9 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84833-1
Publisher: Atheneum

Two percent of the whole population—620,000 soldiers—died in the Civil War. This is almost the number killed in all other wars America has fought, from the Revolution through Vietnam; at the same percentage, the number of Americans killed in a war today would be five and a half million. It was a war that changed America in many ways. It ended slavery, it preserved the union as indivisible, and it continued the process of making America a land of “liberty for all.” Five generations later, the war is still fascinating. An estimated 50,000 books have been written about it, many movies made, and Civil War reenactments continue in popularity. Yet there is always a need for another good overview and this fills that need. McPherson, one of the leading Civil War historians, pens an excellent introduction. Focusing mostly on the battles, the volume includes black-and-white photographs by Mathew Brady and Timothy O’Sullivan, period oil paintings, maps, and numerous sidebars with additional “Quick Facts.” Most topics are given a one-page treatment, and this—though sometimes limiting—is part of the volume’s great appeal: brief, well-written accounts of battles, key people, and issues. The maps are well done, as is the inclusion of soldiers’ letters. The bibliography includes mostly books for adults, so it is not useful in guiding young enthusiasts to further age-appropriate books. A thoughtfully and clearly constructed offering that will appeal to history buffs young and old and a must for any Civil War history collection. (Nonfiction. 9+)