THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE CIVIL WAR by Otto Elsenach

THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE CIVIL WAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In spite of its title this latest book by a writer known for his controversial attitude toward the Civil War contains few mysteries and fewer hidden facts. Depending largely on ""Ifs"", the author presents statements with which many of his readers will fail to agree Lincoln had declared the Southern ports ""closed"" instead of ""blockaded"", a difference in legal terminology, could the ""virtual loss of the entire merchant marine by Southern privateers"" have been prevented, as the author intimates? If these same ports had been attacked from the rear, as the amateur strategian, Asa Mahan, advised, could they have been captured? Was Mahan's advice ignored because Stanton and other cabinet members wanted to prolong the war? Stressing Lincoln's meddling with McClellan and Grant's blunders rather than his victories, the author tells also of Jefferson Davis' stubborn incompetence and of Lee's amazing aversion to maps; on Lee's inability to restrain his ""fighting fury"" in battle he blames the defeat at Gettysburg and Meade's ""hollow victory"". In his estimate of various Civil War generals, the most valuable part of the book, he credits only Forrest with ""military ability near genius"", places Lee below Longstreet, gives Grant a dubious rating below McClellan, and falls to mention Sherman. More valuable as a stimulant than for its factual content, this book will hold a certain, if negative, appeal to addicts of formal Civil War history; war buffs on both sides will find it both biased and irritating.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1961
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill