The greatest military historian of our time gives a peerless account of America’s most bloody, wrenching, and eternally fascinating war.
In this magesterial history and national bestseller, John Keegan shares his original and perceptive insights into the psychology, ideology, demographics, and economics of the American Civil War. Illuminated by Keegan’s knowledge of military history he provides a fascinating look at how command and the slow evolution of its strategic logic influenced the course of the war. Above all, The American Civil War gives an intriguing account of how the scope of the conflict combined with American geography to present a uniquely complex and challenging battle space. Irresistibly written and incisive in its analysis, this is an indispensable account of America’s greatest conflict.
About the Author
John Keegan was for many years senior lecturer in military history at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and has been a fellow at Princeton University and a visiting professor of history at Vassar College. He is the author of twenty books, including the acclaimed The Face of Battle and The Second World War. He lived in Wiltshire, England until his death in 2012.
“Assiduously researched. . . . Vivid, panoramic. . . . A wonderfully concise, comprehensive and insightful work. It is also a heartfelt history.”
“Keegan takes the long view [of the Civil War], putting it into broad historical context amid history’s great conflicts. . . . [He] teases out the Civil War’s parallels with World War I with great aplomb, from how troops were mobilized through methods of attacking enemy trenches. He also catches, quite movingly, the essential difference between these two wars.”
—The New York Times
“[Keegan’s] achievement is to bring an international perspective. . . . As well as looking back at European influences, [he] looks forward to how the civil war changed European warfare.”
“Notably thoughtful. . . . Keegan’s fine book will find its way to many a bookshelf.”
—The Washington Times
“[A] history that offers a thoroughly satisfying account for the general reader . . . and a multitude of intriguing insights for the Civil War buff.”
“A commanding history of the Civil War. . . . [Keegan] is a big picture writer. . . . The one-volume approach is refreshing.”
“Written in crisp prose and a confident, distinctive voice. . . . [Keegan] offers the kind of provocation we need to foster a thoughtful and inclusive, rather than a romantic, commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial. . . . When such a craftsman offers a one volume narrative account of the American Civil War, we should pay attention.”
“An excellent political and social history. . . . [Full of] important facets often neglected.”
“Thoughtful, incisive. . . . [Keegan] breaks down the elements of battle in the war, noting the unusual fact that they were so frequent compared to other wars of the time, and so intense, and ponders how a single democratic society could produce such a ferocious intensity of war against itself. . . . A cogent, well-argued and insightful book, which approaches so much of the story from a vantage different than that of most of our Civil War scholarship.”
—William C. Davis, The Military Book Club
“Keegan delves into leadership, strategy and geography in his examination of this much-explored topic, bringing his remarkable knowledge of comparative military history to bear.”
—The Kansas City Star
“Keegan is known for his military histories, and this is a worthy addition to that collection. . . . Highly recommended to Civil War enthusiasts and scholars.”
“A sophisticated survey. . . . With fluid assurance Keegan distils the challenging literature that has made the Civil War one of the 19th century’s most popular subjects. . . . The precision and punch of Keegan’s narrative will please a broad audience.”
—BBC History Magazine
“Keegan, an Englishman with a matchless knowledge of comparative military history, approaches [the Civil War] as a choice specimen with fascinating oddities. . . . Keegan’s elegant prose and breadth of learning make this a stimulating . . . interpretation of the war.”