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Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Civil War

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The newest installment in the New York Times #1 bestselling companion series to the Fox historical docudrama, Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies; The Civil War is a pulse-quickening account of the deadliest war in American history

From the birth of the Republican Party to the Confederacy's first convention, the Underground Railroad to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of Gettysburg to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Civil War reveals the amazing and often little known stories behind the battle lines of America's bloodiest war and debunks the myths that surround its greatest figures, including Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, General Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglass, Stonewall Jackson, John Singleton Mosby, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, John Wilkes Booth, William Tecumseh Sherman, and more. An epic struggle between the past and future, the Civil War sought to fulfill the promise that "all men are created equal." It freed an enslaved race, decimated a generation of young men, ushered in a new era of brutality in war, and created modern America. Featuring archival images, eyewitness accounts, and beautiful artwork that further brings the history to life, The Civil War is the action-packed and ultimate follow-up to the #1 bestsellers The Patriots and The Real West.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2017

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About the author

David Fisher

70 books85 followers
Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

David Fisher is the author of more than twenty New York Times bestsellers and coauthor of Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies series. His work has also appeared in most major magazines and many newspapers. He lives in New York with his wife and two sons.

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5 stars
569 (39%)
4 stars
552 (38%)
3 stars
242 (16%)
2 stars
44 (3%)
1 star
27 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for ♥Milica♥.
994 reviews304 followers
January 7, 2022
I like how this was written. It wasn't too hard to follow along on audiobook, but I wish I had an ebook or a physical copy to go with either way.

This doesn't cover everything, but the things it does are explained well. It's even slightly funny in parts which I wasn't expecting.

All in all, really cool book.
August 12, 2017
I love reading about history and especially the Civil War. I knew many of the facts presented in this book but Bill O'Reilly has several things that were new to me. For example, I didn't know that John Wilkes Booth was present at the hanging of John Brown. Anyone who enjoys the Civil War will enjoy this book. However it just scratched the surface on a very complicated period in our history.
Profile Image for Melissa.
240 reviews39 followers
October 25, 2017
I'm going to go straight up and say this; i got bored with this book. It's like a really boring history book. I'm not impressed. I had to make myself finish this...
Profile Image for Monica Willyard Moen.
1,294 reviews29 followers
January 6, 2022
Almost any military action has the potential to show us heroes, villains, and lots of people who are some of both. My belief is born out by the tales in this book about the history of our Civil War.

After reading this book, I have a much clearer understanding of howh and why some things have happened over the last 100 years, widening ripples from rocks thrown in a pond as much as 300 years before then. I discovered the southern Way of life when I was 14, as well as beginning to understand some people who had always seemed so different from me. The gracious people there adopted this Yankee and helped her make the south her home. I have lived there for around 30 years now and never intend to leave. I’m also proof that though there are still traces of our Civil War, healing has come between the people of the north and the south that are all Americans.
Profile Image for Diann Young.
26 reviews
August 2, 2019
Really great information for both sides of the war. The author does a good job of trying to present the side of the North and the South in a neutral manner. This is not how I learned it in school. Great book! Recommend for those who want a good overview of the Civil War.
Profile Image for David.
128 reviews2 followers
August 19, 2017
I liked this book. Wasn't too long and had great illustrations.
13 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2017
To the point

As is true of all of his historical works, O'Reilly's, Civil War ,
is fast paced and chock fill of interesting anecdotes, some well known but others rarely seen. Enjoyable reading.
Profile Image for John Russo.
231 reviews2 followers
April 14, 2020
Fascinating well written story of the civil war told through individual stories of the main characters of the war. I found it very informative and learned more about the civil war than I recall from history classes in school. Along with the legend and lies story of the revolutionary war, these two books tell the story about the two principle events in our country’s history. A very worth while book to read accompanied by many photographs and lithographs.

The book carries Bill O’Reillys name but David Fisher is the author of the book. It’s a companion piece to O’Reillys television series of the same name.
Profile Image for Toni.
420 reviews4 followers
May 17, 2020
Listened to this one on a road trip. It was hard to follow along with all the people mentioned, and we got a little bored about 3/4 of the way through. But it was still interesting to hear all the details and events about that period.
Profile Image for Michael.
38 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2017
This was a great refresher on the history of the Civil War and renewed my interest in it. Well written, I'm really enjoying this series and now need to go back and read The Patriots.
Profile Image for Ben Denison.
503 reviews23 followers
September 27, 2022
I’ve generally liked Bill O’Reilly’s short history type books. They are usually quick read and usually offer up some nuggets on the subject matter I had not known before.

This time , meh, the audiobook was fine (listened while walking at night) but it was a pretty basic, condensed, with no new information. I was just ok.
Profile Image for Mel.
531 reviews
March 30, 2021
The quality of paper and historical images with maps are amazing. The writing and conflicts of the author's belief and the "facts" he included contradict. I had never heard the lies he wrote about.
Profile Image for Yvon Maurice.
Author 2 books
December 8, 2019
This book could have been entitled “A guidebook to the battles of the American Civil War and the Generals who fought them”. As such, it is quite a good book and I've learned a lot from it. But if you want to know about the other, equally important, aspects of this bloody conflict (e.g. the political and socio-economic framework, as well as the short and long-term impacts that it had on American society), you will have to complement your reading with other books. Generally speaking, the book is well written albeit a bit tedious and dragging due to the monotonous nature of the subject matter.
1 review
May 4, 2021
I enjoyed Legends and Lies: The Civil War because of the details it included about main characters/events of the Civil War and the many illustrations that are included in the book. The book begins with the lead up to the Civil War and explains the state that the country was at this time. It explains the different opinions and viewpoints that people had about slavery.
One of the many stories that are included in this book was about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Address is one of the most well known speeches by a president in American History. The featured speaker that day was politician Edward Everett and Lincoln had accepted an invitation to just add “a few appropriate remarks. Lincoln’s address was intended to be only a few works to pay respect to the thousands of men who had fought, been wounded, and died there. Lincoln scribbled most of his speech that was only a couple minutes on the back of an envelope while traveling on the train to Gettysburg. I have thought that Lincoln was the only and main speaker that day, and that his address was much longer and more written out considering how famous his familiar words are. There’s also many detailed illustrations included in the book. One of which was a series of five paintings by James Hope with each one weighing more than two hundred pounds. There is also a painting in the book that was painted by Theophile Poilpot and twelve assistants that was a four-hundred-foot by fifty-foot panorama of the Battle of Shiloh. There many other detailed paintings and pictures in this book that give the reader a better idea of what the battles were like. I also thought that the North was pretty united at this time and that Lincoln was very popular which neither of these were true. This direct quote shows the condition of Lincoln and the North at this time “Meanwhile the republican party temporarily changed its name to the National Union party in an attempt to attract the votes of pro-war Democrats. It seemed like a futile effort; McClellan remained tremendously popular while Lincoln was seen as weak and ineffective. Not one of the previous nine American presidents had been reelected for a second term and there was no reason to believe that Lincoln would be different.”
The Civil War was a very important conflict in U.S. history because we maybe would not have our same country if the result was different. Overall Legends and Lies: The Civil War is a great book if you are interested in learning about the heroes, main characters, and major events of the Civil War.
Profile Image for Andrew.
294 reviews4 followers
January 25, 2019
This is a good, well written, concise synopsis of the Civil War. I particularly enjoyed the author's deft framing of each chapter around an iconic personality, while still maintaining a logical order to the historical events depicted. I have not read a Civil War history structured this way, (and I've read plenty of Civil War history) and so I liked that aspect of it.

What I don't understand is this:

Why is Bill O'Reilly getting top billing, his name and photo above the actual author's? ALL HE DID WAS WRITE THE FORWARD! (I suppose I know the answer, as it's tying in to a TV series, and the name sells the book, blah blah.) But a comprehensive telling of the history of the Civil War is an immense undertaking, and it doesn't seem right that the author himself seems but a parenthetical afterthought to the TV guy that mailed-in a couple pages of generic antebellum text. (see what I did there?)


"Legends and Lies" doesn't seem to be an apt description of the book. (I know, I know, it's a tie-in to a series I have never seen, nor heard. But I'm reviewing the book here, not the series or the concept) and that title doesn't FIT THE BOOK.

I was expecting a bunch of myth-busting, surprise facts and shocking de-bunkery (not a word) which really doesn't happen. It's basically a good, concise synopsis of the war and some of the more notable people of the time. Legends and lies, not so much.

Final compliment and criticism:

There's some very nice art and illustrations in this book, which made me wish the print format was larger, because the detail of the art was sometimes hard to appreciate due to how small it was reproduced.

Also, a ticky-tack complaint on a stylistic choice of the book design...several pages printed the text over top of lightly greyed out background art, which made the text hard to read and the background art hard to appreciate, somewhat compromising both.

Three-and-a-half stars.
Profile Image for Elwin Kline.
Author 1 book8 followers
May 8, 2020
A great recap of and very informative edition/refresher of the events of Civil War.

This is the third (and final I believe) read for me within the Legends and Lies series by Bill O'Reilly, and I must say the least enjoyable of them all. The Real West was phenomenal, one of my favorite history books for sure. Patriots was very good as well, not quite as good as the The Real West, but very entertaining and educational at the same time, an excellent combination. However, this Civil War rendition was just not on par compared to the other two.

Some spoiler free (is it even possible to spoil a book on the Civil War? lol) highlights for me would be the amount of detail about Abraham Lincoln, pre-war, during, and post, his assassination and the discussion about Booth, and even a duel ol' Honest Abe took part in that was a lot of fun to read about... and let's just say it doesn't involve pistols.

Other points that captured my interest was the coverage of Robert E Lee, female soldiers impersonating men to fight/serve, and the "contraband" loophole.

Not the most riveting book, but it's the Civil War and it was a pretty grim time for the United States and no matter how you try to present it. I would recommend this to someone who wants a quick historical recap of the war.

Again though, I would not say this properly represents of the Legend and Lies series books and The Patriots and The Real West are vastly better, more entertaining, and I would even say more informative than this one (but then again, I guess that is based on individual perspective... if you're a teenager and never heard anything ever about the Civil War in your life, this would probably be incredibly informative).
Profile Image for Stephanie.
41 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2021
I picked up this book because I read Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Lincoln. It was a terrific read! I made a mistake, I thought Bill O’Reilly wrote the book when I glanced at the title. Legends & Lies The Civil War was not written by Bill O’Reilly, instead it was written by David Fisher.

What I like about this book, the incredible photos, lithographs and maps. The sheer madness, folly, resignation, terror, and chaos just leap out at the reader as depicted in the photos. One truly cannot really know the loneliness and futility of this war like the Generals did. To readers, this book may be only words. To me, its countless lives lost, stories and generations lost. What a terrible waste.

I like how the book is broken into mini story chapters, focusing on key characters that shaped the war.

This book is superfluous. Just whets the appetite enough to want/need to get additional in-depth specific books to really delve into whichever character(s) one might want to learn more about. Some parts of the war were glossed over or made light of, such as page 234 recounting about John Singleton Mosby. I had no idea who Mosby was til this book.

It predictably ends with the capture of John Wilkes Booth. But Booth really had little to do with The Civil War itself. He has key role in the book because he assassinated President Lincoln. I presume that Booth earned his money as a critical actor, and thus, had the means to buy his way out of serving as a solider or volunteer in the Civil War? He commiserated with the Confederates, but the book does not go into detail about Booth’s duties as a secret agent.

Its a great book for teens and a refresher book for budding historians. It is an easy read and gives a brief look at the war through short brevity and incredible pictures.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Forrest.
235 reviews7 followers
July 23, 2022
"It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it." General Robert E. Lee

It would be very challenging to write a single book about the civil war, but the authors do a pretty good job here. The book is faced paced, and obviously doesn't cover everything, but touches on some of the most significant events, how the war began, significant battles and events, key players, and so on.

Fun fact: "Sideburns" is named after Civil War general Ambrose Burnside for his unusual facial hair.

In addition to narratives on the many battles and leaders on both sides of the war, the following is a list of other topics included in the book:

-Abolitionist John Brown and the Pottawatomie Massacre

-The Dred Scott decision

-Nate Turner's violent rebellion

-The Harper's Ferry raid.

-The Baltimore (Pratt Street) riot of April 1961

-A short biography of Frederick Douglass as well as Lincoln, Grant, and Lee.

-The 750 women who served in disguise at one time or another on both sides of the war including one who was promoted as a Confederate major and another who actually gave birth during the war.

-War weariness and draft riots on both sides, particularly in New York

-John Mosby's rangers in the south.

-John Booth and The plot to kidnap Lincoln.
Profile Image for Claudia.
1,219 reviews37 followers
December 1, 2021
If you've read the previous two books in the series, you basically know what you're going to be getting - images, battle maps (really wish they were a bit bigger since the details blurred a bit due to the age of these archival pieces), commentary from eyewitnesses not only on the battlefields but the political ramifications from John Brown's rebellion through to Appomattox and Lincoln's assassination. Battles were not only fought between the two sides but under the watchful eye of European governments calculating on whether to support the Confederacy or ignore it.

The other books seemed to focus on individuals but in this case it was mostly the battles - political and physical - that are the key points along with the generals who fought them and military tactics they utilized. Again, it is a good introduction to the Civil War with various people, locations and conflicts between the two distinctly different and yet so similar areas of the early United States. Even to the present day, the echoes of these battles resonate across the country.

Profile Image for BT Philips.
87 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2017
Bill O'Reilly yet again has commissioned the making of another great historical work. Fisher did a nice job with this book. He is just as good as O'Reilly at conveying the significance of events in the book. I can now say I clearly understand the role of the Civil War in American history. It played more of a role in shaping the nation than any other war. That is something I appreciate much more after reading Legends and Lies: The Civil War.

Tracing from the divisive issue of Southern rights over slavery, Fisher follows the years long path to civil war. From there, he carefully follows secession, the war's outbreak, and each major battle in detail. All along the way, Fisher also sheds light on the war's major figures such as Abe Lincoln, George B. McClellan, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Ulysses S. Grant. As a history buff, I am glad to have encountered this book. It only deepens my knowledge of the most pivotal conflict in my nation's history.
69 reviews
May 11, 2023
Civil War Clarified

When we look at the history of our country, we realize that we are fallen human beings living in a fallen world as the HOLY SCRIPTURES testify. In our country (America) we forget that our forefathers had strong beliefs in our Creator and based our Constitution on HIS Word. As we look back we see those on both sides that hated slavery (which wasn’t like Biblical slavery) and those that promoted it. We forget that some hated it but fought for it because of where they lived. It’s sinful that those who called upon the one TRUE GOD, didn’t do better proclaiming the TRUTH of the HOLY SCRIPTURES because in the first three chapters of Genesis we see that we’re all created in GOD’s image. It’s also a shame that they didn’t teach the truth of Acts 17:26, which plainly shows there’s only one race, but different ethnicities. Maybe if the church (GOD’s people) had proclaimed the truth, the slavery would have ended as in England and we’d had no war!
Profile Image for Chad.
374 reviews6 followers
May 21, 2023
I really enjoy reading these series of books by O’Reilly and the contributors. Much of the information is well known, but O’Reilly adds small morsels of lesser known events throughout each chapter.

It’s well-written. I appreciate the research and also realize that fact checking a lot of this stuff must be tedious. Admittedly I kind of take this info as it’s presented. Some have said that there are inaccuracies, but at this point I think it’s a matter of perspective from whatever journal or author penned the data. I’ve read and somewhat studied multiple volumes of civil war books, stories, and journals… and nothing jumped out to me as “out of place” or that out wrong. Take it fir what’s it worth.
Profile Image for Skylar Newbury.
215 reviews9 followers
November 19, 2017
This may have been the best Civil War book I have read. This is by far not the first Civil War book I have read, but this Civil War book just hit me differently somehow.

The pages in this book are gorgeous, and so is the inside cover (It's a map with all of the major Civil War battles). Alot of the photos in the book have also been colorized from their original black and white look. There is alot of information about the war itself as well.

It doesn't matter if you are a long time Civil War lover (like me) or are just starting your journey into the horrible war, you will enjoy this book.
105 reviews
August 18, 2022
You need to enjoy and know history, as I do. History is one of my favorites to read.
Ok, in saying this, this book was an excellent read on the Civil War. Knowing the basic history is a must, as it dives into details not usually spoken about in the quick history classes we had in school. The author takes some of the significant people and events and goes into some detail and relates events to others in a way not really thought about. Nicely done.
I learned some things on each chapter that I never thought about. It was an amazing time in our country.
I do try to compare modern times to this time period. We are a very divided country, but it is not geographical. It is political.
Profile Image for Theresa Jehlik.
1,253 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2017
Using primary sources (speeches, newspaper articles, presidential documents, etc.), Fisher explores the leading figures and major battles of the Civil War. Striving to show both sides of any event or issue, Fisher reveals a nation just as divided and raucous as today's America. His research depicts the politicians, generals, spies, and other well-known figures as real humans who don't always think and act as they're portrayed in the history books. This work is an interesting look at a conflict that still echoes through today's United States.
September 5, 2017
Detailed history book

If only the books I read in college had so much information? At times this was a difficult but worthwhile book to read....MANY names of people and places I'd never heard of before. I often was confused on who was fighting for. the north and who was fighting for the south so I started highlighting passages so I could keeps my thoughts straight.....

I recommend thus book for those who want to understand the truth about our history and not just gloss over the facts....but be warned....this is not a simple novel."its HISTORY" at its best!
Profile Image for Christine D.
2,515 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2017
As with other 'Legends and Lies' and 'Killing' books, O'Reilly and his co writers write history in a way that is easy to read. Even for those who are not a fan of history, his books lay it all out nicely and smoothly.
This book was thorough and well pretty all encompassing considering the length of the book (they hit the important stuff but also throw in a bunch of other relevant points. which is impressive considering the book is less than four hundred pages).
Having read this, I feel I can keep up with my Dad (an avid Civil War history buff) in a conversation about the Civil War.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
651 reviews
November 21, 2017
A very thoroughly researched and written book about the primary characters and the parts they played in the US civil war. Lots of pictures and anecdotes that make the story much more understandable and memorable.

This topic and Abraham Lincoln are particular favorites of mine so I enjoy reading about everything related. I also like the way Bill O'Reilly treats his characters and topics. One of the few people in history that I would dearly love to have known and had time to study up close and personal is Mr. Lincoln. Really enjoyed this book
71 reviews
February 14, 2018
The book is 100% Civil War, start to finish. What is illuminating is the attention to the context of the times, such as political attitudes, voter impact, or individual anecdotes. So, it is not just a progression from battle to battle. Frequent use of illustrations from that time period help keep the material interesting. After so many Civil War books and history lessons, one would think you know it all. NOT SO! I do enjoy Civil War history, but this book would be very readable even for a general audience.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews

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