A natty and comprehensive scrutiny of the American Civil War.
This is an extremely and satisfyingly meaty excursus through the American Civil War. It provides a more-than-adequate degree of depth, if the reader chooses; far from suffocating, but hitting on a swarm of salient points. The text roams and ranges, from the Nullification Ordinance to the cotton gin, The Liberator newspaper to the Amistad to the Missouri Compromise. Wrenching episodes are not soft-pedaled—John Brown’s abolitionist activities, the New York City draft riots—and the battles are given strategic coverage while providing a real sense of the mayhem and carnage. The fortunes of war wax and wane, always appallingly, and are driven home by the seriously impressive array of archival photographs and images. Minor drawbacks include the text being set against faint background images, which can make it difficult to read, and some of the audio portions, of which there are only a few, move at too great a clip. The embedded videos, however, are terrific and make one yearn for more.
Both richly constructed and altogether winning, a fine history of our nation’s most calamitous conflict. (iPad nonfiction app. 10 & up)