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This Hallowed Ground: A History of the Civil War

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  703 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
First published in 1955, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bruce Catton’s classic account of the Civil War simultaneously captures the dramatic scope and intimate experience of that epic struggle in one brilliant volume.
Covering events from the prelude of the conflict to the death of Lincoln, Catton blends a gripping narrative with deep, yet unassuming, scholarship to bri
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1955)
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Joe Banks
Jun 27, 2014 Joe Banks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Catton's 1956 work provides everything that a newcomer to the history of the American Civil War could possibly want from a single volume. It covering the major campaigns of the war from a Union perspective, its portraits of the key generals - McClellan, Grant, Jackson and, particularly, Sherman and Lee - are well-drawn and insightful; but it also does an excellent job of showing the lives and hardships of the ordinary soldiers.

At the book's heart is a moving lyricism. The author always fin
Sep 23, 2008 Ebookwormy1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ebookwormy1 by: Carp 500
This book is a historical account of the Civil War. With pages of notes, a bibliography and an index, it is a good read with lots more to explore. Written by Bruce Catton, who has published many books on the topic, it has the feeling of a substantial work. The account is heavy on battle strategy and documentation, with some insight into politics and even less into the societal impact of the War. Historical account being the privelage of the victors, it is told from a Union perspective, but inclu ...more
Apr 03, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
A great single volume book on the Civil War. It obviously can't get too bogged down in detail given the restriction on size. Bruce Catton is able to describe the major battles without delving into the minutiae of military movements but still describe the general plan. My knowledge of the geography of the area was weak so having a good atlas helped understand the different movements of the armies. I loved the author's prose style. Very readable and elegant.

Steven Peterson
Apr 04, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent introduction to the Civil War. Bruce Catton's book focuses on the Union side, but he presents the War in even-handed terms. Exquisitely written. His character sketches are terrific, allowing the reader to get a sense of players in the war with a few paragraphs. This holds up pretty well, even though written over five decades ago.
Mar 08, 2017 Austin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There is a rowdy strain in American life, living close to the surface but running very deep. Like an ape behind a mask, it can display itself suddenly with terrifying effect. It is slack-jawed, with leering eyes and loose wet lips, with heavy feet and ponderous cunning hands; now and then, when something tickles it, it guffaws, and when it is made angry it snarls; and it can be aroused much more easily than it can be quieted."

A succinct but dense history of the Union perspective of the Civil Wa
Oct 23, 2016 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, civil-war
Bruce Catton never disappoints. This book tells the entire story of the civil war from the North's perspective with just enough detail on the major battles to cover the basics and still be under 400 pages. It's the additional details he provides on the people and their circumstances that add to the story. For example from the last chapter of the book, just after Lee's surrender at the Appomattox Court House.

"Grant stayed in character. He heard a banging of guns; Union artillerists were firing sa
Kendrick Hughes
May 24, 2017 Kendrick Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Catton but this one was a little bogged down by flowery prose. A great synopsis of the civil war from the Union side. Battles are covered briefly, the focus of this book is more towards why and how events happened.
Denis Mann
Jun 21, 2017 Denis Mann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly descriptive writing and a thorough one volume history of a fascinating period. Really paints the picture and also remains entirely relevant although written 60 years ago. More reading would possibly be needed for broader context for non-US readers.
Mary Ellen Woods
Bruce Catton is the classic and still the best
Mar 08, 2017 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most readable books on the entirety of the Civil War.
Brad Lucht
Jan 25, 2013 Brad Lucht rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the better civil war books I have read. Released in 1955.

Not as dry as Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton is a more poetic writer, lending more emotion to the description of events that occurred from 1861-1865.

On the burning of Atlanta, Catton writes, "The solders went to their with zest. By now they understood industrial warfare, they could equate wholesale destruction with a blow at the enemy's war potential, and anyway it was fun to wreck everything."

"The Federals were not moving out to find a
Nov 22, 2013 Dave rated it really liked it
I would begin the conversation by saying this is likely a 4.5 star book, and for many a page, 5 stars for the swift and sheer eloquence in which Catton takes a dreadful age in American history and recollects it so poetically as if he were there, standing astride the battlefields himself to report upon it afterwards. But the drawback is that the book also takes on the life of the war, slogging strenuously through the bitter months of despair as scores of lives are lost, many to bullets but more t ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Amazing One Volume History of the Civil War

When I was a freshman in college, way back in 1986 I happened upon a Bruce Catton (1899-1978) book in the bookstore while buying all of my textbooks for my first semester. I picked it up just because I was in a mood to be educated with something that looked more interesting and less daunting than my economics and math textbooks. My fascination with all things Civil War began with that book (I sold it in a fit of stupidity a couple of years later). I
Oct 12, 2009 Dr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
Best single volume history of the war that I have yet to read. For anyone who wants to have the chain of events laid out before them for the first time or just brush up on them after too long detached from the big picture this would be perfect. It didn't seem to become too overwhelming at any point either because it's only the union side of the war so the story telling cancels out half the characters and goings on of the war outright. Making for a much more cohesive presentation than most. Obvio ...more
P. Aaron Potter
Before the publication of "The Killer Angels," I would have easily declared this the best book of history, on any topic, ever written. Now I'm a bit torn, but only a bit. Really, Catton's book and Shaara's are so very differentin scope and tone that they augment, rather than compete. They complete one another.

Whereas Killer Angels focuses on the story of a war as played out in the experiences of one man, here Catton provides an eagle-like overview of the period. Here not just north or south, bu
Scott L.
Feb 16, 2014 Scott L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely the best single volume treatment of the war that I have ever read. Catton takes no sides, but in a matter-of-fact way describes all aspects of the war. He treats all fronts equally, and even delves into some of the more unknown aspects and stories of the war. He is very descriptive, yet not overly so; this book is a fast read, and only took me a long time to read because I was determined to enjoy the pleasure of reading it. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in an over- ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Different treatment of the main characters Grant, Lee, Lincoln. It is not historical fiction, but I am enjoying it. I may read more of his books.

I finished it today and kind of hated for it to end. According to other reviews it is a review of the CW from the morthern perspective. I did determine this ater while. However it was not slanted and seemed objective. I feel like I am gettingt to know Lee, Grant and Lincoln better.
The author does explain diferent perspectives of what was happening, so i
Darrell Fawley
Oct 08, 2016 Darrell Fawley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is possibly the best book I've read on war...period. It is well researched history written by a man with a poet's touch. It is a joy to read. This is a comprehensive look at the Civil War, touching on the major themes and events. It omits many of the dealings in the Transmississippi and never mentions many generals, but it is a great single volume look from the spark to the extinguishing of the war. For military officers, there are many lessons to be learned reading this. For the general pu ...more
Brendan Steinhauser
This narrative of the American Civil War reads like a hybrid novel/journalist's account of the war. It's a great overview for the reader that wants to know more about the events of the war, without getting too much into the details of the military tactics and the specific battles. I would recommend this book to the general reader of American history, but if you want more details on particular battles or people, I'd suggest reading other more specific books.
Dec 10, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With few maps but clearly written descriptions of battleground settings and well defined personalities this is a complete and detailed overview of the Civil War. In spite of the horrible human wreckage that occurred this book was a joy to read. Almost poetry. Something to read out loud to yourself as well as others.
Jan 04, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic-history
This is the first book about the American Civil War that I ever read, and to say it sparked a lifelong enthusiasm for the subject is an understatement. Very pro-Union and pro-Lincoln, but then, so are most books about the subject.

A very accessible, very interesting study. If you only ever read one narrative of the war, it should be this one.
Tommie Whitener
Jul 29, 2014 Tommie Whitener rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scholars much more learned than I have praised this book and I can only add my voice to their chorus. A well-deserved Pulitzer Prize winner, This Hallowed Ground
covers the Civil War from beginning to end in one volume with beautiful prose, candid insight and emotion evoking descriptions. I'm glad I read it this second time.
Aug 03, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, one volume history of the Civil war. Bruce Catton writes with imagery and a large scale perspective. For those who know more specifics about particular battles, they may be disappointed that some perspective or individual event is not referenced, but if you want a big picture of the Civil war, I would recommend this book.
Bill V
Aug 22, 2016 Bill V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. I would recommend this as an overall one-volume title on the American Civil War. It covers all the key points, battles and issues. My only criticism is that I wish Bruce Catton would have written more in prose instead of so much descriptive language. I prefer Shelby Foote's style more but Catton is very good.
Erik Graff
Oct 12, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Having read Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War years before and planning to read his more focused Army of the Potomac trilogy, I read this, his account of the war from the perspective of the Union, as a quick refresher. As ever, it was an engaging delight which led me beyond the trilogy to his two volume biography of General U.S. Grant.
Dec 17, 2016 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have to love non-fiction to enjoy this book, but no other book covers the entire Civil War as well as this book in less than 500 pages. Catton gives a great account of the thinking and rationale from the perspective of Union high command.
May 19, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly readable account of the Civil War. I especially appreciated how Catton was able to zero in on particular accounts of major engagements, then pull out to provide an overview of the impact of the particular battle.
Sep 20, 2011 Chuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: civil war buffs
Recommended to Chuck by: history professor from Yale
One of the best books written about the civil war, published in 1955. A must read for history or civil war buffs. Not much romance but great history, insight, and philosophy on that period. Don't know why I waited so long to read it.
Ian Major
Jul 04, 2012 Ian Major rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this riveting from the beginning. History, professional history, told like novel. The style reminded me of Thomas Carlyle's 'The French Revolution' in some respects - exciting account and apt Biblical allusions. One for my re-read shelf.
Chris Gager
I think this is the correct book we were assigned to read over one of my prep school summers. I found it to be mostly boring but I do recall Lincoln's frustration with McClellan. That came through very well. The politics and careerism of it all. Date read is a guess.
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Catton was known as a narrative historian who specialized in popular histories that emphasized the colorful characters and vignettes of history, in addition to the simple dates, facts, and analysis. His works, although well-researched, were generally not presented in a rigorous academic style, supported by footnotes. In the long line of Civil War historians, Catton is arguably the most prolific an ...more
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