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The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It
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The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It (Civil War series #1)

4.44  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
After 150 years the Civil War is still our greatest national drama, at once heroic, tragic, and epic-our Iliad, but also our Bible, a story of sin and judgment, suffering and despair, death and resurrection in a "new birth of freedom." Drawn from letters, diaries, speeches, articles, poems, songs, military reports, legal opinions, and memoirs, The Civil War: The First Year ...more
Hardcover, 814 pages
Published February 3rd 2011 by Library of America (first published January 6th 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Steven Peterson
Feb 12, 2011 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing
What a treasure this book is! It contains a series of documents of the Civil War's first year "by those who lived it."The inside front cover displays a map of the United States, with key battles from the first year underlined in red. Among them: Wilson’s Creek, Belmont, Port Royal, Rich Mountain and, perhaps most famously, Bull Run. A Preface and Introduction set the table for what follows. As the Preface has it (Page xix): "Sele3ctions have been chosen for their historical significance, their l ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
THE CIVIL WAR: THE FIRST YEAR TOLD BY THOSE WHO LIVED IT. (1860-1861; this comp.2011). *****. Edited by Brooks D. Simpson, Stephen W. Sears, and Aaron Sheeham-Dean.
This is the latest issue from the Library of America, and the first in a four-volume set that will present a variety of documents that were written during each year of the conflict. The documents have been selected from a variety of primary and secondary sources of the period, from official government releases to personal letters ho
David Keith
Dec 25, 2015 David Keith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Well documented, and sorted in chronological order. Those who lived it (The Civil War) had really and genuinely experienced the war in it's fullness. The letters, Diary entries, speeches, are authentically true to the tortuous, barbaric realities of the civil war, and it's damage it incurred psychologically, physically, emotionally wear and tear it had had on the people was, as one can determine, was very real and monstrous.
Robin Friedman
Apr 16, 2014 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing
The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. To commemorate the event, the Library of America has begun a four-volume series that will offer a year-by-year account of the war drawn from original sources. The first volume of the series has recently been published, covering roughly the first year of the conflict beginning in November, 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln, and concluding in January, 1862, when Lincoln replaced Simon Cameron as Sec ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Brian added it
The Army Military Historical Foundation's journal _On Point_ assigned this work as my first for what should be a series of book reviews. It is a long work at over 800 pages, of which 700 or so are primary text and the rest are supporting material (Chronology, Notes, a few maps, etc. The principal value, as the title implies, is that one confronts history in its raw originality--the voices of a wide array of figures from the most senior, such as Lincoln and Davis, Lee and Grant, to the minor, esc ...more
Gary Land
Apr 18, 2011 Gary Land rated it it was amazing
This volume is an excellent collection of documents that is balanced between North and South, politicians and regular citizens, and soldiers and civilians. The most striking thing that I found in these documents was the claim by Southerners that they were following the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that they believed the North had abandoned. Although I taught U.S. history for many years, I guess I never fully grasped the Southern argument. Another striking t ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it
Confusion and anxiety: those are the two dominant themes of the war that have been lost under the weight of one and a half centuries of scholarship, romanticism, and pop history.

The abolitionist Lincoln (who never existed) and the autocratic, one-dimensional plantation owner (also a fiction) do not appear in this book. The easy dichotomy of North vs South is destroyed by the split loyalties, fear, cynicism, apathy, and ideological gymnastics of the authors.

Every generation learns the Civil War
Oct 27, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
I realize that we are not yet in 2013, but I have already produced my "Best Reads of 2012" so, I have to start a new list.

I already read "The Civil War: The Second Year Told by Those Who Live It" and LOVED it! This book is just as great!

Again, it is articles, congressional acts, speeches, official military letters, family letters, poems and so much more ... that forms a chronological history of the events that occurred in November 1860 - January 1862.

I learned so much about the key people, place
Aaron Crofut
Apr 20, 2014 Aaron Crofut rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, civil-war
I enjoy reading these collections of primary sources, and this collection is particularly worthy of notice due to the subject studied. The arguments concerning the justification of secession on both sides are profound and well argued. The accounts of battles were good, but the social and political letters and articles are of more use to Civil War buffs already well versed in the military aspects. Also interesting to see the mistakes made in initial reports, just like we see in ongoing crises tod ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Bob rated it it was amazing
An amazing publication. Add you your short list of absolutely must-have books for anyone collecting or reading in the field. I guarantee you will find material you have never seen referenced, and even more you have heard of but never found. Sad to say, this book will also demonstrate how our educational system has dumbed down in the last hundred and fifty years. Read any of the speeches contained here, and see if you know anyone with such a vocabulary. I have the next volume waiting, and look fo ...more
Jason Russell
Mar 12, 2012 Jason Russell rated it it was amazing
Some of this volume is a tad boring and dense, but most of it is inspiring, insightful, and illuminating. With first-hand reports from grunts on the ground to Presidents Lincoln and Davis, this first of four volumes provides the student of the Civil War with a treasure of information. My approach was to read it over a year's time, i.e., material that was written in February 1861, I read in February, etc. This made it easier to "digest" and made it really enjoyable.

May not be for everyone, but r
Wanda Holaday
Sep 12, 2011 Wanda Holaday rated it it was amazing
I liked this book so much I bought an extra copy just to loan to friends. By using only source material from the time period of the Civil War the editors allow the reader to form his/her own opinions about the thoughts expressed. I had read snippets and quotes from the documents in other books and articles but had never read them in context with other writings from the same time period.
'The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It' is a must have for anyone interested in the history
Christopher Sutch
Sep 30, 2011 Christopher Sutch rated it it was amazing
A very impressive beginning to this multi-volume set of anthologies of primary sources. The editors might have erred on the side of too few entries (that is, I wanted a more complete picture of certain events that are not covered directly in these texts, only in the editorial notes), but the selection is still excellent and provides a fascinating portrait of people's thoughts and feelings as events progressed into the war.
Apr 14, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
This is a chronological collection taken from the first year of the American Civil War. Among the pieces are addresses by Presidents Buchanan, Lincoln and Davis, as well as letters and diary entries from officers, politicians and others. A interesting group of documents that show the events of 1861 as they saw them.
Cheryl Turoczy hart
It was eerie, reading this description of the beginnings of the Civil War at a time when there is, once again, such division in our country. I don't know whether it was more perturbing to see the similarities of two sides so divided or reassuring to know that the country survived in spite of the division.
Roger Henley
May 31, 2011 Roger Henley rated it really liked it
This book was long in reading. Must have a lot of tolerence to read this book. Each event is however is in different settings and views of the Civil War. There are some personnel views from each person in this book to what the Civil War Meant to different persons. Some chapters however seem long but that is what that person have written in that period of time.
Apr 08, 2011 Pat rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for anyone who is interested in the Civil War. Maybe a little too much focus on transcripts of political speeches and not enough on the private correspondence, which in my opinion provides a better feel for the impact of the war on both its major and minor participants. This is a really minor flaw however. I will definitely read the 'second year' soon.
May 25, 2011 Ian rated it it was amazing
I enjoy reading just about anything on the Civil War, but this is the first one I've read completely that contained documents and writings from politicians, soldiers and ordinary citizens. I thoroughly enjoyed it, Great Book!! :-)
Burney Huff
Jan 04, 2017 Burney Huff rated it really liked it
Great book! Not a fast read, but so very much to be learned in this book. Reading the words of those who were there and writing at the time made me feel like I was living it, too. Very enjoyable! I want to read the other three books in the series.
Jun 14, 2011 Christine rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Some bits of it were long and boring, but so much of it was so human and so real. Loved it.
Sep 25, 2012 Caleb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war, history

An absolutely outstanding compilation of primary source material. A fantastic reference for the experiences of the people who lived through the first year of that dark time.
Mills College Library
973.7 C5828 2014
I think this is probably a very interesting book, but my Civil War phase did not last long enough to allow me to finish it.
Randall D
Randall D rated it really liked it
Feb 21, 2015
Holly Hueston
Holly Hueston rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2014
Andrew Wright
Andrew Wright rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2017
Alexander rated it it was amazing
Jan 09, 2014
Daniel rated it it was amazing
Nov 09, 2013
Edwin  Klemm
Edwin Klemm rated it liked it
Apr 24, 2012
Middlethought rated it it was amazing
Jun 21, 2017
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Brooks Donohue Simpson is an historian who is the ASU Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University, specializing in studies of the American Civil War.
More about Brooks D. Simpson...

Other Books in the Series

Civil War series (2 books)
  • The Civil War: The Second Year Told By Those Who Lived It

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