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Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In April 1861, Confederate artillery blasted Fort Sumter into surrender. Within weeks, the Confederacy had established its capital at Richmond. On May 24, Lincoln ordered troops across the Potomac into Virginia, only a few miles from the Confederate military base near the hamlet of Manassas. A great battle was inevitable; whether this would end the war, as many expected, w ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Sep 14, 2011 Marcus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any author attempting to write about this first major battle of American Civil War is facing some severe difficulties - not only is there a lot of myths that need to "be punched through", but also, the battle itself developed in very chaotic manner. Nevertheless, Detzer manages to deliver a very competent narrative, along with a superb analysis of why the events developed the way they did. This book is absolutely on same level as those of Sears and Cozzens. There is only one thing that stops me ...more
Allen Martin
This book is a detailed look at the events leading up to the battle, and the battle itself. Although the battle descriptions were detailed, I found myself longing for a detailed map of the battlefield in order to follow the narrative.
David Detzer brings an excellent finale to his three book series on the start of the civil war. While not a revealing story of little known events like the first two he provides a different take on the battle of Bull Run. Details of the battle are given within this book but it is not your typical civil war book and the lack of maps is more intentional since it really is about the political fallout and what the military on both sides learned from their encounter. From the defeat of the Union and ...more
Gary Brecht
Sep 23, 2009 Gary Brecht rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For several reasons, this was a good read. Firstly, it provides a thorough, well researched account of the conflict. Secondly, the author strives to paint more than a graphic picture of the battle; he attempts to convey the emotions felt by the participants and observers alike. Detzer’s research gives us a fresh look at the facts. He tells us where and why his interpretation of the battle differs from previous historians’ views. While he provides us with pertinent statistics and facts, he keeps ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
An exceptional retelling of the Battle of Bull Run, David Detzer offers an engaging account of the first major clash of the American Civil War. With a generous helping of first-person accounts, and meticulously detailed examinations of the planning on both sides of the battle, this book offers a fascinating glimpse of just how little Americans knew about the real horrors of war, to say nothing of how bloody the next four years would be. As a minor complaint, the book could have used more maps of ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Rich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detzer is at his best here describing the run-up to the battle, but once the action starts, things become a bit hard to follow. While he does attempt to clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding a few of the battle's key events, Detzer reminds us several times that trying to piece together a comprehensive picture of the battle is a devilishly difficult task since the participants left conflicting narratives/timelines. I guess that's his way of being honest & lowering our expectations so w ...more
Don Cygan
Feb 10, 2013 Don Cygan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Detzer is by far one of my favorite history authors. His writing style is colorful and enjoyable, and his history is always framed in the greater perspective of the time (social, political, etc.), which so often, many other historians ignore. This is my personal favorite of all of his works, as it underscores the "innocence lost" theme of the first large battle of the American Civil War, and takes an unflinching look at the unrealistic expectations of the soldiers, leaders, and citizenry of both ...more
Jun 15, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war
Very compelling narrative and gave a clear view at both the tactical and strategic level. The biggest drawback is the lack of maps. If I hadn't just mounted a 22"x30" color map of this battlefield to wallboard, I would have been decently lost geographically, although Detzer did as well as could be expected in describing the relative locales without maps.

I'm contemplating buying this one for future re-reads. At least I finally finished reading this in time for the sesquicentennial of the battle.
Jul 26, 2007 Hanjinax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War junkies
Wow! I've read a lot of books on the Civil War and this is one of my favorites by a person not named Shaara. Detzer takes the details of history and weaves them into a compelling story. This is non-fiction that sometimes reads likes historical fiction as Detzer knows just how to bring the reader along. By the time you're done you'll know as much as you could ever want to know about the battle of Bull Run.
Josh Liller
Superb writing (with amusing similes) about the first major battle of the American Civil War. It provides a good lead up to the battle, lots of details, good tangents on aspects of Civil War era military, tackles all the controversies, but perhaps best of all was just a joy to read.

My only real criticism is the HUGE lack of maps.
Aug 23, 2008 Karen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I recently took a full-day tour of the Bull Run battlefield. I was told by the local historians that this was the best book about the battle.
Brandon Bullock
Sep 19, 2013 Brandon Bullock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very historically accurate in terms of where they fought and what times they fought as well as their plan of attack.
Apr 26, 2010 Jb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to learn the details of the battle, how the union commander made a poor decision while sick at his stomach that had great effect re: the union defeat.
Aug 30, 2008 Joann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing in the details. I'm taking my time to absorb it all. Wish I'd read it loong before now.
Ryan Diamond
Ryan Diamond rated it really liked it
Jul 06, 2014
Paul rated it it was amazing
Sep 16, 2013
Jerry rated it really liked it
Jan 21, 2016
Jerry Teipen
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Aug 12, 2012
Dad rated it really liked it
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Andrew rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2012
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Nov 07, 2009
Kevin O'brien
Kevin O'brien rated it liked it
Jan 15, 2011
Dylan McCartney
Dylan McCartney rated it it was amazing
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sep 21, 2014
Lew Taylor
Lew Taylor rated it it was amazing
May 19, 2015
'Aussie Rick'
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Dec 11, 2009
Eric Williams
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Edgar Raines rated it it was amazing
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