The Civil War: The complete text of the bestselling narrative history of the Civil War--based on the celebrated PBS television series
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The Civil War: The complete text of the bestselling narrative history of the Civil War--based on the celebrated PBS television series

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,718 ratings  ·  55 reviews
"The Civil War defined us as whatwe are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things.... It was the crossroads of ourbeing, and it was a hell of a crossroads: the suffering, the enormous tragedy of the whole thing."- Shelby Foote, from The Civil War

When theillustrated edition of The Civil War was first published, The New York Time hailed it as "a treasure...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 6th 1994 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,508)
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Geoff
You may have purchased this book when Ken Burns' classic and genre defining documentary was broadcast. And you may have relegated this book to your coffee table because it is a big, heavy volume. But please, get it off the table, sit comfortably, put it in your lap and read it. It has hundreds of pictures, many liner notes and loads of insightful essays so the actual text is not terribly long. In fact, despite is daunting size the actual history of the war can only really be a summary. If you wa...more
Wendy Lenore
This was a great book, I also watched the series on PBS and to hear first hand the words from diaries,letters and the memories of the people still able to remember the events of the civil war was amazing.....like being there. It is like they are speaking right to you from beyond this earthly realm. The loyalty and faith great leaders on both sides inspired in their men who would follow them unconditionally stand up for their beliefs.... was inspiring. At times no food, odds against them,when it...more
Tom Menner
This was the series that really made a name for Burns, and the coffee table book holds up as well - lavishly illustrated with photos, maps, etc. and liberally mixing history and personal stories, similar to Burns' documentary style. This is not the definitive written work on the Civil War, but it is an enjoyable work on its own merits.
Sarah
This book gives a good overview of the Civil War era, touching on political, military, economic, and social developments. Purely an introduction, though--each battle is described in only a few pages and none of the events are truly flushed out, so more reading is necessary to get a deeper understanding.
Kelly B
Well, Ken Burns is one of my heroes. He is amazing. I love this book, and haven't finished it yet, but of course I fully intend to. The losses sustained in these battles were immense. I mean, some towns lost all of their men!
Erik Graff
Mar 13, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War fans
Recommended to Erik by: Fin Einar Graff
Shelves: history
For years my sole blood-brother (I've many step-brothers and a step-sister) lived in a small house on the outskirts of Sawyer, not far from Warren Dunes State Park alongside the western shore of Lake Michigan and a long walk south from where the ancestors had built a cottage during the first world war. The house had originally been purchased by his former wife, Miki, with whom he had become reconciled and with whom, indeed, he had had a daughter, without bothering to get remarried. Given the con...more
Julie
Read on a kindle with few pictures, but this still seems to be the correct edition.

This is a short, easy introduction to the background and major events of the Civil War. Highly recommended for people who, like me, have an interest in history but no familiarity with the Civil War.
Rachel Coyne
To me this book helped put all the pieces of the puzzle together - the chronology of the battles, their unique features, the movements of the separate armies. There was also a sense of the people and relationships involved. No one was spared - this is a warts and all narrative for both sides in this conflict over slavery.
Grace
This is an audio book that accompanies the PBS video series 'The Civil War,' by Ken Burns. It is abridged, so it doesn't go into as much detail as the videos, but it hits all of the high points. It is read by Ken Burns, who does a fantastic job reading it. I always feel that the reader adds or detracts a lot from an audio book.

I listened to this book and watched the PBS series simultaneously, as well as read several books on the Civil War at the same time. Even though this audio book is abridge...more
Burt
If I were a high school teacher of American History, I would prefer this book as the text for the students to studt the Civil War. It is by no means a detailed history that delves into the politics and the battles, rather it is a concise account of both the politics and battles as well as the key politicians, key generals, and a smattering of the interesting "bit players" of the war. For my part, having read of our Civil War in some more serious detail, I found it interesting, well researched, a...more
Robert Bason
Excellent summary resource for the Civil War. It is filled with a large array of interesting facts and side stories.
Karen
Jan 16, 2009 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Karen by: Nancy Kersell
As someone who has never before been able to summon the slightest interest in the civil war, I find it's helpful to have an overview of this huge subject. The Civil War, largely the text to the Ken Burns documentary by that name, provides decent survey to the topic, and as well includes lots of great photographs and excerpts from personal documents: letters, diaries, etc. This is giving me, a former complete ignoramus on the subject, the framework of facts and generalized understanding. I would...more
Michael
I was not yet ten years old when I first saw Ken Burns's monumental documentary The Civil War on PBS in the fall of 1990. I am glad I finally took the time to read the book based on that documentary. Much of the book's text is based on the documentary's script. Overall I enjoyed reading this book because I learned several things which I did not know before reading it. While this book does not go in depth into any particular aspect of the war, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a broa...more
Kim McCabe
Fantastic overview of the Civil War that intertwined fantastic photos, letters, songs, etc to give you a feel for the times and the feelings circulating among "ordinary" people of the time. Half the reading time is absorbed in studying the wonderful photos. This is the book adaptation of the miniseries done by Ken Burns. Well worth a look if you enjoy history but aren't big on non-fiction reads.
ken roberts
Like Ken Burns's PBS series, this does an excellent job in covering the breadth of The Civil War, in a relatively brief period of time. At the same time, it provides plenty of the personal interest stories and character analysis for readers who like that kind of thing.

The pictures and graphic design of the book is excellent.
Matt
This is definitely one of the best, most readable, and most enjoyable books on the Civil War. If you read just one book on the Civil War, this should be it. I've read it twice and enjoyed it the second time as much as the first.

An amazing piece of work that will be read for generations to come.
Tamra
The Civil War was brought to life for me through this book. I was completely absorbed with the writing, artifacts and photographs. It was powerful, moving, fascinating and educational. Greatly enhanced the PBS documentary to which this is a companion book.
Matthew
Great illustrations and a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes about the Civil War that I had not heard before.
Scilla
This is a well done history of the Civil War with lots of pictures. There is a great deal of detail. I would have found it a little more enjoyable to read with a little less detail, but if you want the whole story, it is there.
Darrell
This is the companion piece to the highly celebrated PBS miniseries made by talented filmmaker Ken Burns. The book is a wonderful revisit to this series that changed the face of the documentary film technique.
Beth
Jun 12, 2013 Beth marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Not sure this is same the book (though the cover is the same). I'm reading "The Civil War: The complete text of the bestselling narrative history of the Civil War -- based on the celebrated documentary by Ken Burns"
Stephen Hughes
Great companion piece to the PBS documentary. However, one demerit for that idiotic section where the authors claim that the Battle of Gettysburg began as a battle over shoes. No such evidence exists.
Ryan Witalison
May 30, 2011 Ryan Witalison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Civil War fans and American History fans
A great companion to the smash hit Documentary series by Ken Burns. It includes many photos and maps from the series as well as text A Must have for fans of the Civil War and American History
Wilson
I lugged this book home from Georgia on the plane. Nothing says easy traveling like a heavy-ass book about the Civil War. But still -- it was a light, quick read about horrible national tragedy.
Christiana
If you are a history buff this is a great read. It is not as overwhelming as Battle Cry of Freedom but still does a good job of hitting the highlights of the Civil War from both sides.
Dev
The book is great, but the 5 stars are more a tribute to the tv doc, which manages to create mesmerizing tv that entertains, educates, and is deeply enlightening about the human spirit.
Brian S. Wise
A superb companion to the Ken Burns documentary. The text consists of a greatly expanded version of the film's script, adding fine detail to every aspect of the war.
Chip
The weight of that war fell on me as I read this book. When I started reading, I was a Civil War buff. I ended feeling like I was a survivor. It was terrible.
John
If you can read only one book about the Civil War, this is it. It's not deep at all, which is the point. But it covers a lot of ground quickly. Plus, pictures.
Barbara
Great reference book for anyone interested in the Civil War. I particularly enjoyed reading the stories about the experiences of the common soldier.
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Geoffrey Champion Ward is an author and screenwriter of various documentary presentations of American history. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1962.

He was an editor of American Heritage magazine early in his career. He wrote the television mini-series The Civil War with its director Ken Burns and has collaborated with Burns on every documentary he has made since, including Jazz and Baseball....more
More about Geoffrey C. Ward...
Baseball The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945 Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson Mark Twain Jazz: A History of America's Music

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