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Don't Know Much About the Civil War: Everything You Need to Know About America's Greatest Conflict but Never Learned
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Don't Know Much About the Civil War: Everything You Need to Know About America's Greatest Conflict but Never Learned (Don't Know Much About)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  606 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Why did Abraham Lincoln sneak into Washington for his inauguration? Was the Gettysburg Address written on the back of an envelope?Where did the Underground Railroad run?

Can you answer these questions? If not, you're not alone! New York Times-bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis comes to the rescue, deftly sorting out the players, the politics, the key events -- Emancipation...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,128)
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Jay Connor
I'm pretty well read on the Civil War, but I'll have to say that I picked up some nuggets here.

Perhaps the most interesting is to upend my "conventional wisdom" understanding of the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Elementary and High School history left the impression that Lincoln's assassination was all the worse because it left the Presidency in the hands of the disreputable, Andrew Johnson. He was so disreputable that he was impeached.

As the new novel "The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln" by t...more
The first multi-CD audio book I've listened to. I was in outback NV at a truck stop and realized I'd forgotten my MP3 player. I didn't want to listen to static & Christian stations for a whole day of driving, so I picked up this set of 5 CDs. Turns out it's an abridgement, so I don't feel comfortable giving it a star rating. If pressed, I'd probably say 3.5 stars.

I liked the introduction, wherein the author (who did the narration and many of the character voices) promised us stories about wo...more
Some of you might know I'm on a trivia team. We do okay, but we were a little light on military knowledge. We assigned each member a war, and my war was the Civil War, so I picked this up as my 'beginner book' on it. It turns out, it was a pretty good beginner book, and it also turns out that I'm starting to get into learning *everything* I can about the Civil War.

If you want to bob in and out of what happened where, getting deeper at times, this is the book for you. This book starts well befor...more
Bart Breen
Entertaining, but somewhat Shallow

I listened to this book on tape and enjoyed it overall. I confess, I had some issues as I listened to the book as I am apparently in that class of people who actually does enjoy and study history. I found the anecdotes entertaining and overall found the book appropriate for its purpose as a primer for a majority of the populace who apparently doesn't have even a cursory grasp of the keystone event in American History. It does have a tendency however to oversimpl...more
I read this book in conjunction with several other books in order to gain an in-depth knowledge of the Civil War through several authors’ perspectives. I like that this book contained so many primary sources so that I could understand what people were thinking and feeling. Davis sometimes includes light-hearted and humorous stories, which makes this book even more interesting and fun.

In addition, I like the timelines and the fact that they include events, which were occurring outside of the Civ...more
I am really torn on this one. I love finding out any information on the Civil War but this book had a very argumentative tone that put me off. And then I was unsure if this information was actually factual. I couldn't wait to get to the end so I could read something else.
Elena Timofeeva
Hello, I'm Elena Timofeeva from Moscow, Russia.
In Russian schools we never learn deeply American history, so generally speaking, all the information we have comes from Hollywood movies, in fact I was the one who knew about the American Civil war only from "Gone with the Wind" movie/book.
Well what I can say, my English is pretty intermediate as you can see from my comment,)Even though I enjoyed that book, and it was quiet easy to read even for me, so I'm a bit surprised to read some comments here...more
This is a really helpful book in better understanding the Civil War, not only because the author goes through all the events chronologically, but also because he starts at the very beginnings of America itself to provide a full look at what ultimately brought the country to that divisive point. I liked Davis’ continued insertion of relevant quotes, songs, and documents throughout the book. His way of writing is certainly not boring or dry. He presents the human side of the war, as well as the ba...more
Zzz...zzzz....zzz....Oh, I'm sorry, I was reviewing a book? Yeah, the thing about this book was, it was so boring, even thinking about it puts me to sleep. Dry and dull, it's full of disconnected factoids that read like so many lists rather than an overall coherent narrative. Although the author acts like he's digging deep into history, anyone who reads this without a good prior understanding is going to walk away with the trite and oft-disproved overview that the war was fought only over slaver...more
I really didn't know much about the Civil War before picking up this book. I had vague shapes in my head, rumors about battles, ideas that one side wore gray, the other blue. Basically crap I'd picked up from terrible John Jakes miniseries watched with one eye open in the eighties. So this book really did put a lot of information in context and fired me up about a topic that before then I'd given little care to.
Chris D'aquin
I really liked this. Instead of starting with the beginning of the war or a few years before the war starts, Davis kicks off his book with a long travelogue of how vitally important slavery was to much of Colonial and early American business. By doing so, he makes a convincing argument that the Civil War was really about slavery. All other issues take a second or third seat.

He then builds his way up to the Civil War, trying to pull in many of the social, political, and military reasons behind wh...more
Though I am from Richmond, I feel I completely missed out on learning about the civil war. I really knew NOTHING about it, but this book helped. A lot. It also sparked an interest and may actually get to me to learn more about this. It's a sad thing that I know more about British history than American, but I'm trying to change this.
Loved it....lots of tidbits that I never knew! Doesn't get too bogged down in the details of the battles like some history books do. Talks more about the thought processes behind the Generals and Lincoln and the politics of the time. Very interesting. I must say that I did listen to it on audio...that may have made some difference.
Sparkie Allison
I have read dozens upon dozens of books on the Civil War. This is a great overview and has some fun facts probably not in other books. Every student should read this book. Excellent.
A brilliantly written history. He let's the people of the era do most of their own talking.
A great book of facts but not a great audio book.
A great introduction to the Civil War

First, I need to tell you something about me. I am a Civil War buff. I can go into long expository speeches about nearly any topic of the war at the drop of a hat. I think it is a great moment in TV when the local PBS station shows Ken Burns' Civil War mini-series. The movie Glory is my favorite movie and I personally own more than 80 books on the Civil War. I love to debate any number of topics about the war and I truly believe that it is the pivotal moment...more
Accessible history of the Civil War with some interesting insights by Davis. Like his other books he breaks up the topic into manageable spans, in this case a year or 18 months of events, and provides insight into the character and humanity of the players - fascinating stuff in some cases. I am ashamed to admit that a lot of my perception of the Civil War was influenced by the epic Gone with the Wind and other movies (ones probably truer to the horror of war, like Cold Mountain) and to understan...more
Don’t Know Much About the Civil War
I picked this up because although I do know much about the Civil War, I thought it would be fun to go over it again. However, this book is not as entertaining as the title would lead you to believe. In fact, it is quite dry at times. I thought there were a few minor errors, but did not note them down and I do not remember them now.

The author is operating under the assumption that his readers don’t know much because they got all of their information from Gone Wi...more
No. Really. I swear! I know what you're thinking but even an ollllde history type like me learned some things from Davis' quirky approach. Almost too simplistic at times and even if occasionally a wee bit too full of slang and cliches, this tome will engage every reader from
raw recruit to seasoned general
Good information but a bit strangely organized. Felt like it jumped around a bit. The author would discuss a specific topic, which might take you through a few years, but the next topic would start before the last one. I suppose when one is used to the traditional format of learning history, in one year sequential increments, it can take a bit to get used to. Not sure if I favor that or not though.

The information itself was great, no complaints there. Had many ideas and events that I never knew...more
Jerry Smith
Entry level, easy to read book about the Civil War. Basically runs chronologically but takes a novel approach of picking out the major events and explaining them. Therefore retains a lot of interest although probably not for the purist in terms of in depth analysis or true historical insight. However that is not the aim of the book and for those like me who were looking for an overview so we can pick avenues to explore further this certainly fits the bill.

To it's credit, but again aiming at the...more
Overall, it was OK. The politics of slavery were the cause of the civil war, and the seeds that started this war were planted as soon as America declared independence. The confederacy was controlled by a small number of souther politicians, and those politicians owned a lot of slaves - so when the north wanted to abolish slavery, the slave owners rebelled.

The north had a bigger economy, better credit, and ultimately deeper pockets, so nobody is surprised that the north won the war.

Interesting a...more
I found some of the aspects of the war discussed interesting, especially the McLean family's involvement. That tidbit will probably stick with me for a long time and is a good tool to demonstrate irony. I liked that some myths were dispelled--Lincoln composing the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope on the train ride to Gettysburg. However, the book is slighted due to the questions asked and the way they were asked--more discussion on Andersonville's horrors v. El Mira's horrors, so th...more
Steven Williams
Not as good as his book on the bible. Could be the subject matter.
While this book seems kind of big, and has over 500 pages, it really doesn't feel that long. I found history really interesting while reading this book, Kenneth C. Davis has a way of taking facts and making them seem less like facts and more like pieces of fascinating story. Kenneth also tells every side of the story, not just the winners. Overall I thought this was a delightful book that gave you a basic overview of the civil war.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
I guess I know a little bit about it now...
Jan 27, 2010 Bev rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
This book can be read like an encyclopedia, searching for facts or read from cover to cover like I did. The information is INTERESTING--no boring details. Only the headlines of the battles are given. It thoroughly covers the war, even details leading to the war many years before and years after to the current time when we are still fighting some of these issues. It is more than facts--it is substantially eye-witness accounts. To me history is people and each person was fleshed out fully. And the...more
Brandon Collinsworth
I did really enjoy this book and it was as good as any of Kenneth C Davis other books, but maybe it was a bit too much information. The length was his standard book length and maybe a shorter book would have fit me better. I didn't feel like I absorbed much on the first read through. Maybe on the next one more will stick. It was still a great book and had all the stories and information that make Kenneth C Davis books fun and informative.
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Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Don't Know Much About® series of books and audios for adults and children. The first title in the series, Don't Know Much About® History became a New York Times bestseller in 1991 and remained on the paperback list for 35 consecutive weeks. It has since been revised several times and now has more than 1.6 million copies in print.

More about Kenneth C. Davis...
Don't Know Much about History: Everything You Need to Know about American History But Never Learned Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation Don't Know Much About Geography: Everything You Need to Know About the World but Never Learned

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