Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War

Paperback | November 1, 1997

byJames M. McPherson

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James M. McPherson is acclaimed as one of the finest historians writing today and a preeminent commentator on the Civil War. Battle Cry of Freedom, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of that conflict, was a national bestseller that Hugh Brogan, in The New York Times, called "history writingof the highest order." Now, in Drawn With the Sword, McPherson offers a series of thoughtful and engaging essays on some of the most enduring questions of the Civil War, written in the masterful prose that has become his trademark. Filled with fresh interpretations, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Drawn With the Sword explores such questions as why the North won and why the South lost (emphasizing the role of contingency in the Northern victory), whether Southern or Northern aggression began the war, and whoreally freed the slaves, Abraham Lincoln or the slaves themselves. McPherson offers memorable portraits of the great leaders who people the landscape of the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant, struggling to write his memoirs with the same courage and determination that marked his successes on thebattlefield; Robert E. Lee, a brilliant general and a true gentleman, yet still a product of his time and place; and Abraham Lincoln, the leader and orator whose mythical figure still looms large over our cultural landscape. And McPherson discusses often-ignored issues such as the development of theCivil War into a modern "total war" against both soldiers and civilians, and the international impact of the American Civil War in advancing the cause of republicanism and democracy in countries from Brazil and Cuba to France and England. Of special interest is the final essay, entitled "What's theMatter With History?", a trenchant critique of the field of history today, which McPherson describes here as "more and more about less and less." He writes that professional historians have abandoned narrative history written for the greater audience of educated general readers in favor ofimpenetrable tomes on minor historical details which serve only to edify other academics, thus leaving the historical education of the general public to films and television programs such as Glory and Ken Burns's PBS documentary The Civil War. Each essay in Drawn With the Sword reveals McPherson's own profound knowledge of the Civil War and of the controversies among historians, presenting all sides in clear and lucid prose and concluding with his own measured and eloquent opinions. Readers will rejoice that McPherson has once againproven by example that history can be both accurate and interesting, informative and well-written. Mark Twain wrote that the Civil War "wrought so profoundly upon the entire national character that the influence cannot be measured short of two or three generations." In Drawn With the Sword,McPherson gracefully and brilliantly illuminates this momentous conflict.

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From Our Editors

The preeminent Civil War commentator and author of the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Battle Cry of Freedom" now offers a series of thoughtful and engaging essays on some of the most enduring questions of the Civil War, written in the masterful prose that has become his trademark. "Exact, convincing, and judicious".--"The Ne...

From the Publisher

James M. McPherson is acclaimed as one of the finest historians writing today and a preeminent commentator on the Civil War. Battle Cry of Freedom, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of that conflict, was a national bestseller that Hugh Brogan, in The New York Times, called "history writingof the highest order." Now, in Drawn With the...

James M. McPherson is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History at Princeton University where he has taught since 1962. The author of ten books on the Civil War era of American History, he won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1989 for Battle Cry of Freedom.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 5.31 × 7.8 × 0.79 inPublished:November 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195117964

ISBN - 13:9780195117967

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From Our Editors

The preeminent Civil War commentator and author of the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Battle Cry of Freedom" now offers a series of thoughtful and engaging essays on some of the most enduring questions of the Civil War, written in the masterful prose that has become his trademark. "Exact, convincing, and judicious".--"The New York Times Book Review"

Editorial Reviews

"These perceptive essays deliver just what readers have come to expect from the pen of our generation's leading Civil War historian. Learned, original, quick to question convention, and written in McPherson's clear and often eloquent prose, they challenge readers to think anew about importantissues and personalities associated with the nation's great trauma."--Gary W. Gallagher, Professor of American History, Penn State University