Harold's Reviews > A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

A World on Fire by Amanda Foreman
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's review
Jan 02, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2012

Foreman is clearly a very good writer. The backbone of this book is one of the best histories of the civil war I have read, since Foreman (correctly) believes that to understand the role of Britain in the Civil War, you need to view it in context. Into this history, Foreman weaves the dynamic of the relationship between Britain and the US (both sides). Did you know that we -- the North -- almost went to war with Britain several times during the Civil War, or that there were those (perhaps including Seward) who thought that we would be better off letting the South seceed and taking Canada from the British? Unfortunately, Foreman also weaves in the story of many individual British citizens who were partisans of either North or South. It isn't that these stories are not worth thinking about in this context, but they are the weakest part of a book that is just 30% too long. By the end I learned a lot, and I was happy I stuck with it -- but I was also happy it was over.

I will look forward to her next book, but hope she attacks something slightly more contained.

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