This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

  • Title: This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War
  • Author: James M. McPherson
  • ISBN: 9780195392425
  • Page: 188
  • Format: Paperback
  • This Mighty Scourge Perspectives on the Civil War The author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the New York Times bestsellers Crossroads of Freedom and Tried by War among many other award winning books James M McPherson is Ame
    The author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the New York Times bestsellers Crossroads of Freedom and Tried by War, among many other award winning books, James M McPherson is America s preeminent Civil War historian In this collection of provocative and illuminating essays, McPherson offers fresh insight into many of the enduring questions about oneThe author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Battle Cry of Freedom and the New York Times bestsellers Crossroads of Freedom and Tried by War, among many other award winning books, James M McPherson is America s preeminent Civil War historian In this collection of provocative and illuminating essays, McPherson offers fresh insight into many of the enduring questions about one of the defining moments in our nation s history McPherson sheds light on topics large and small, from the average soldier s avid love of newspapers to the postwar creation of the mystique of a Lost Cause in the South Readers will find insightful pieces on such intriguing figures as Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Jesse James, and William Tecumseh Sherman, and on such vital issues as Confederate military strategy, the failure of peace negotiations to end the war, and the realities and myths of the Confederacy This Mighty Scourge includes several never before published essays pieces on General Robert E Lee s goals in the Gettysburg campaign, on Lincoln and Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, and on Lincoln as Commander in Chief All of the essays have been updated and revised to give the volume greater thematic coherence and continuity, so that it can be read in sequence as an interpretive history of the war and its meaning for America and the world Combining the finest scholarship with luminous prose, and packed with new information and fresh ideas, this book brings together the most recent thinking by the nation s leading authority on the Civil War.

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    About James M. McPherson


    1. James M McPherson born October 11, 1936 is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis 86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book He was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003, and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclop dia Britannica.Born in Valley City, North Dakota, he graduated from St Peter High School, and he received his Bachelor of Arts at Gustavus Adolphus College St Peter, Minnesota in 1958 from which he graduated magna cum laude , and his Ph.D at Johns Hopkins University in 1963 Currently he resides in Princeton, New Jersey, and is married with one child.


    382 Comments


    1. Each chapter commented or critiqued on different aspects of the Civil War that various authors have written about. The chapter describing how over time the South has changed its view as to the causes of the Civil War was interesting. Author assets that early on, Southerners staunchly defended slavery; but later on when winning the war was seeming impossible justified their efforts as defending states rights. Having grown up in the South and being taught the war was all about states rights, it wa [...]

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    2. The historian James McPherson is an accomplished author and a hard-eyed student of his subjects. This volume, containing a series of some works already previously published and some that had not yet appeared in print, leaves one asking for more. The issue? The "chapters" are quite brief, and the insights and wisdom of the author only cover so much territory. Chapters run to maybe 10-15 pages each, for the most part. And that can only give one a taste that leaves one desiring yet more. At that, t [...]

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    3. Sixteen essays all related to the Civil war and finally a book that firmly declares the true cause of the war, slavery, instead of all the other stated reasons usually trotted out in books and articles. These secondary causes have been offered for more than a century as primary causes and historians are now moving to correct the myth, a myth postulated even as the war was drawing to a close. As McPherson points out “The Civil War is a highly visible exception to the adage that victors write th [...]

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    4. Excellent contribution to filling in the reader with 16 essays that clarify continuing questions about the civil war. Just learning about the South's denial of defeat and refusal to have factual accounts of the conflict part of the school curriculum was a fascinating eye-opener to me. In the South's view, they never lost. McPherson also gives more details about John Brown and other important figures of the time. The book is a good supplement to his other writings on the Civil War.

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    5. A very satisfying, illuminating read. Reader, be warned that This Mighty Scourge is, save a few articles out of the sixteen chapters, a compendium of book reviews written for the New York Review of Books. The NYRB is a paper that I admire for its willingness to go long and erudite, and it manages to go in depth without becoming unbearably dry, but a collection of essays in this style can get a little slow-going even if it's a satiating read chapter by chapter.Plenty of other reviews on the page [...]

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    6. Of all the Civil War books I've read, this is the first one that I can confidently recommend to nearly anyone. It's thorough yet concise. It hits on familiar subjects from different perspectives. It also touches on details that are often overlooked but are vital to the history of this extraordinary time. On Lincoln, Grant, Lee, and Davis, McPherson did a nice job of separating the historical figures from the legends.

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    7. Very clear and objective views on aspects of the war I hadn't considered before. I learned much but have much more to learn. The chapter on the validity of Lincoln's sayings was helpful as was the chapter critiquing other books written about Lincoln. My stack of books to be read has grown exponentially.

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    8. A series of essays summing up what he believes from his years as a historian. Some commonplace items, some unusual, and some fresh insights.

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    9. "This Mighty Scourge" (2007) is a short collection of sixteen essays by James McPherson that, as its subtitle indicates, offers a variety of perspectives on the American Civil War. The Civil War remains the seminal event in United States history, and McPherson is the leading historian of the War now writing. With his simple writing style, erudition, willingness to explore and consider a variety of positions, and ability to convey the continued importance and significance of his chosen subject, M [...]

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    10. This is a series of 16 essays each dealing with a different aspect of the Civil War. McPherson details life during the Civil war in the the military and the civilian communities and discusses why soldier's on both sides loved to receive newspapers and what motivated the soldiers both emotionally and politically. He draws fascintating personality sketches of such individuals as Harriet Tubman, Jesse James, John Brown, Ulysses S. Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman and discusses the role that the [...]

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    11. Very good book on the American Civil WarMy Quick resumeEssay 1: How the American Civil War was motivated by slavery and to tell otherwise would be revisionism.Essay 2: Uncle Tom's Cabin and how John Brown fuels the debate on what’s terrorism.Essay 3: why the north won the war? Discuss reasons. Essay 4: confederate strategy. Offense vs defense. Tactics vs strategy. Essay 5: how failure to get foreign recognition undermined South's chances. Essay 6: General Lee and the strategic decisions surrou [...]

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    12. McPherson, the author of the excellent one-volume Civil War history "Battle Cry of Freedom" is in top form here with a series of essays and book reviews that illuminate and discuss particular figures and facets of the Civil War era. In-depth looks at Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln can be found in "This Mighty Scourge", as well as fascinating analyses on the formation of Southern revisionist post-bellum notions of the "Lost Cause", Lincoln's invocation of Presidential war [...]

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    13. A "Must" For All Students of the Civil WarThis Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War is a collection of 16 essays by well-known historian James McPherson on a number of Civil War-related topics. Some of the essays are brand new, but most have been published before but have been re-worked for this book.They fall into five broad categories:1) Slavery and the Coming of War; 2) The Lost Cause Revisited; 3) Architects of Victory; 4) Home Front and Battle Front; 5) Lincoln.McPherson discusses [...]

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    14. McPherson masterfully illuminates the truth of the Civil War, that the South fought to defend their backward society built on slavery, and the North fought to save the Union and end it. The most rewarding area of this volume for me are his essays that touch on the post war southern revisionist history campaign, which sought to change the narrative (of the southern motive for secession) from slavery to states rights. I value McPherson’s scholarship as much for his conclusions as for the light h [...]

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    15. One the bargain specials at Audible turned out to be an interesting collection of essays on different aspects of the Civil War ranging from the real reasons the war began, to how close foreign powers came to intervening, to Southern revisionism in history books after the war, to whether Sherman was an underrated general, to the political life of Abraham Lincoln. Most of the pieces are written as responses to some existing work or theory in Civil War scholarship, but McPherson does a good job of [...]

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    16. More like three-and-a-half stars, but McPherson is one of the most respected scholars in the field so I don't feel uncomfortable spotting him the extra half-star. This Mighty Scourge is a series of essays about the Civil War, including sections on Lincoln, on Civil War scholarship, on several myths of the Confederacy, and on Generals Grant and Sherman. The essay about young men from Massachusetts who volunteered for the army made me tear up a bit, and the analogy he makes between the Battle of A [...]

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    17. James M. McPherson has written and edited nearly 30 books, including the Pulitzer Prize?winning Battle Cry of Freedom. Turf battles aren't uncommon in Civil War studies, and McPherson has a wide reputation as a thoughtful, fair, and readable historian whose insight brings fresh perspective to some often-scrutinized topics. Although McPherson intended some of the essays for an academic audience, each is accessible and worthwhile, and "displays an admirable transparency, showing the historian at w [...]

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    18. Terrific collections of essays by the author - will give you a penetrating, thoroughly credible and compelling insight into the Civil War, its causative factors and contributing issues. I would give this book to anybody interested in the Civil War. It will enhance understanding of the factors and elements that led to the war, that swirled in about the war, and that have reached down through the years - it will open the door to an appreciation for the times, the people, underlying philosophies an [...]

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    19. Essays of various Civil War related topics. Some of the essays (On the realities behind Harriet Tubman and on reforming Ulysses S. Grant's reputation) were just fascinating, even to a reader with the most casual interest in the Civil War. Some of the writings were clearly intended for readers of a more serious scholastic bent -- the essay reviewing many of the keystone books in Lincoln scholarship, for example. But whether the essay was for Civil War beginners or for professors in the subject, t [...]

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    20. “The thing I like most about McPherson's books is that he discusses the historian's craft as well as the Civil War. When he speaks of a controversy of interpretation, he cites the best sources on all sides and then explains how he comes out on the issue. The last chapter, on what we know about Lincoln, was fascinating. As in all things, there are urban myths to which we all fall prey, and he gives us an example of a mistake he made. The next time some moron forwards an email to you full of fal [...]

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    21. A shotgun blast of essays on the Civil War. If you're in need of a narrative story I'd skip this one. If you're cool with a highly informative look at many of the issues surrounding the war itself, postwar revisionism of the reasons for the war, and stories of some of the many, many characters that shaped what we know about the war, this is a good one. McPherson leaves little grey area about what serious scholars believe (know) caused the war, but leaves open to debate most other aspects.The ess [...]

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    22. McPherson's book is an excellently written and researched historiography of the Civil War. Each chapter reexamines an interesting historical issue: what caused the Civil War? How much can we know about Lincoln's early life? Was Northern victory really inevitable? How did the South shape the narrative of the Civil War after its defeat? How harsh was Sherman's famous march to the sea? All of these questions--and several others--are answered extremely capably in this book. If you're unfamiliar with [...]

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    23. This is a pretty impressive little book, cutting immediately to longstanding questions and controversies about the Civil War and adding context and nuance as needed. That McPherson seems to answer his questions so completely, or at least lays the foundations for answers so fairly, makes this seem like THE Civil War book to read for students and others who wouldn't normally read a lot of history. Now I don't think you could make an HBO miniseries about it, but what do I know?

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    24. The best book to read about the Civil War if you want synthesis and answers to the big questions: why did the South enter the war? Was Sherman an asshole? Was Grant a drunk? How did it start that people claimed it wasn't about slavery? How close did the South get to the masterstroke of recognition by foreign governments?It's all incredibly interesting stuff, and thoughtfully explained by one of the premier Civil War historians out there. It's the best.

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    25. I listened to the audio version of this book. From a well known Civil War expert, this is a compilation of essays which explores a Civil War subject from many sides. The topics vary from things like: "was slavery or states rights the cause of the Civil War" to the part newspapers played in the war. I have read a lot about the CW and thought this contained a wide variety of topics, was very well researched and well worth reading.

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    26. Having read McPherson's Tried by War, I picked up this collection of essays to follow up on themes that had caught my interest. I was not disappointed. Each essay takes an historical question about the war and argues a point. Should Sherman's march be remembered for its brutality? Why did Lincoln take so long to proclaim the Emancipation? Etc. My pleasure in this book was helped by the fact that my memory of the events of the war were fresh from reading the earlier book.

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    27. This is a collection of essays. They vary widely in subject matter, but all of them are interesting and insightful. The first essay in the book deals with the coming of the Civil War, and, as usual, McPherson knocks it out of the park. Another highlight is the essay covering the manifestation of Lost Cause in the decades following the war. Finally, the essay about foreign intervention and the importance of Antietam to Union victory in the war is spot on. Highly recommended.

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    28. When it comes to books about the American Civil War, James M. PcPherson is my first choice in authors. The man is not only brilliant he is an outstanding writer. This collection of essays reminds me why I so enjoy his books. Here he addresses some of the key questions of the war. Why did the war come? What were the war aims of each side? Why did the South lose?

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    29. I actually only read the parts that are relevant to my research/novel, and eh, it wasn't so helpful. but I will admit I had an agenda coming at this book, and my hopes for its content weren't necessarily in line with McPherson's goals in writing it. Still, after Battle Cry of Freedom, this seems quite thin

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    30. The book is a series of essays on subjects about the American civil war. Several of them are about people, including Lincoln, John Brown, Jeff Davis and Jessie James. Those were the most interesting. Some of the political discussions were down right boring. The author did provide some new insights and I generally enjoyed the book.

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