Friday, August 24, 2012

Booknotes IV (August '12)

New Arrivals:

1. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson (UNC Pr, 2012).

I received and read an ARC of this one  a couple months ago and immediately forgot about it until Dimitri wrote a bemused note about its arrival on his doorstep. Periodic works of synthesis like this one [and for the naval war these are not rare], are really only useful to me if they incorporate the best of recent scholarship, hopefully with proper placement of credit where credit's due. For instance, Earl Hess's recent military history of the Civil War in the western theater addressed current trends in occupation and guerrilla warfare scholarship. I never experienced the same feeling while reading McPherson's naval narrative. That's not to say it's a terrible book [unless this is a trend within its pages], it just doesn't offer anything to the non-novice.

2. Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union by Louis P. Masur (Belknap Pr - Harvard, 2012).

Promoted as "the first book to tell the full story of the critical period between September 22, 1862, when Lincoln issued his preliminary Proclamation, and January 1, 1863, when he signed the final, significantly altered, decree".

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