A gripping and fast-moving read, which is a little surprising considering that for most of the book the protagonists are sitting in one Confederate prA gripping and fast-moving read, which is a little surprising considering that for most of the book the protagonists are sitting in one Confederate prison or another. But they're reporters, and even in the worst of times they take an interest in their surroundings, their fellow prisoners, and even their jailers. Drawing on primary sources, Peter Carlson takes us along on the involuntary journey of Junius Henri Browne and Albert Richardson, intrepid reporters for the New York Tribune, as they are captured while covering Grant's operations near Vicksburg from the literal front lines, and shuffled from one prison to another, in the process visiting some of the South's most infamous prisons (only Andersonville is not on the itinerary). Finally making their escape, they are aided by slaves, Southern Unionists and draft-dodgers (called "outliers" in the slang of the time) in a harrowing wintertime trek across the Appalachians to safety, along the way making the acquaintance of some characters that one would think only exist in fiction. But it's a true story, drawing on the memoirs of the principals, contemporary newspaper reports, prison diaries, and other primary sources, detailed in the back of the book....more
An interesting guide through a confusing battle. The maps are not as helpful as they might be, but the writing is clear and readable, and it's well-anAn interesting guide through a confusing battle. The maps are not as helpful as they might be, but the writing is clear and readable, and it's well-annotated....more
More interesting than one would think; one would expect a blistering defense by this controversial general, but many of his remarks show a considerablMore interesting than one would think; one would expect a blistering defense by this controversial general, but many of his remarks show a considerable amount of judgment and wit. The effect is somewhat spoiled, however, by the inclusion of an appendix containing the correspondence between Pope and the Comte de Paris, arguing over Fitz John Porter and Second Manassas....more
While dipping a bit into academic language sometimes (perhaps unavoidably), 'Freedom National' is a levelheaded and at times startling story of the coWhile dipping a bit into academic language sometimes (perhaps unavoidably), 'Freedom National' is a levelheaded and at times startling story of the course of slavery's destruction during the American Civil War. While Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was an important step in the process, it is usually taken out of context; indeed, the Proclamation was actually a necessary part of the Second Confiscation Act passed by Congress the previous summer, and as such contained part of the language of the Act.
Oakes describes and explains the entire process, from the legislative and judicial actions, through to implementation by the military, the federal government, and by what would today be called 'non-governmental organizations), as well as by the slaves themselves and the reactions of the slave state politicians both inside and outside the Confederacy. The book in some ways reinforces (though far more comprehensively) the message sent by the recent Spielberg movie on Lincoln; the Emancipation Proclamation was a necessary step along the way, but it was far from either the first move or the final one, and that the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery was the true death-knell of the 'peculiar institution,' even more so than Union armies marching through the South-- which may have emancipated up to 15% of the Confederacy's slaves at most, despite all efforts.
Not light reading, but very important and very eye-opening, even for those familiar with the subject....more