Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A new stab at A Military History of the Civil War

Given the generally paltry rewards they usually offer at this point, I tend to avoid books of the broadest "A ___ History of the Civil War" variety. Over the past couple decades, a handful of authors have attempted to synthesize the campaign literature. Herman Hattaway's Shades of Blue and Gray: An Introductory Military History of the Civil War(1997) and David Eicher's bulky The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War(2001) received mixed reviews (like many books do) but John Keegan's The American Civil War: A Military History (2009) is apparently wretched almost beyond belief. One might also include Russell Weigley's well regarded study A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 (2000) in the bunch.

To get to the main point, later this year Princeton will release Williamson Murray and Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh's A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War. Among Murray's extensive writings on warfare and strategy, I've only read portions of his WW2 book co-authored with Allen Millett but I rather liked Hsieh's West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace. I would like to give this new one a look.

1 comment:

  1. "John Keegan's The American Civil War: A Military History (2009) is apparently wretched almost beyond belief."

    I thought Keegan made some useful insights, but the editing was incredibly sloppy. Which is really the problem with most Keegan books beyond the ones on the First and Second World Wars: good strategic mind, lack of attention to details.

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