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From the Publisher
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
10 BEST BOOKS • THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Chicago Tribune
• The Economist • Nancy Pearl, NPR • Bloomberg.com •
Library Journal • Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed historian Amanda Foreman follows the phenomenal success
of her New York Times bestseller Georgiana: Duchess of
Devonshire with her long-awaited second work of nonfiction:
the fascinating story of the American Civil War and the major role
played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle.
Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of
Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable.
Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the
Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets,
and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two
and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For
four years the complex web of relationships between the countries
led to defeats and victories both minute and history-making. In
A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught
relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both
humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of
her sweeping and brilliant narrative.
Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered
for service on both sides of the Civil War. From the first cannon
blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee's surrender at Appomattox, they served
as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses, blockade runners
and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman
has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet
intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps,
and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy.
Through the eyes of these brave volunteers we see the details of
the struggle for life and the great and powerful forces that
threatened to demolish a nation.
In the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on
muddy fields and aboard packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions
made, the beliefs held and contested, and the personal triumphs and
sacrifices that ultimately led to the reunification of America. A
World on Fire is a complex and groundbreaking work that will surely
cement Amanda Foreman's position as one of the most influential
historians of our time.