Sunday, December 16, 2012

Go read "We Have the War Upon Us"

Since 2005, I've maintained a fairly rigorous pace of reading and reviewing books of all types on this site, and I'll admit that it somtimes feels like work more than anything else. Often, I just like to check a Civil War related book out from the library and read it, relieved of the task of feeling pressed to write about it. My most recent choice along these lines was William Cooper's We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861. In my opinion, this and Russell McClintock's Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession are the two works of recent vintage that best and most challenge key things about what we know and what we think we know about the period between the election of Lincoln and the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter.

But not all views of it have been as rosy. I generally avoid commenting on other reviews (especially when I do not offer one of my own) but Bruce Levine's largely dismissive CWBR review baffles me in innumerable ways.  I actually read his piece before beginning the book and at no time during my reading did I feel the reviewer's critical commentary about Cooper's content and alleged interpretive failures gain substantial traction.  In my mind, it is one of the best studies to appear in 2012, and serious readers would do themselves a great disservice if they didn't pick up a copy of We Have the War Upon Us and consider its merits on their own.

1 comment:

  1. I had Dr. Cooper for an antebellum South class at LSU in 1993. It was a very interesting class with a wide required reading list, but I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read his "Jefferson Davis, American."

    Joel Manuel
    Baton Rouge

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