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The Negro's Civil War

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In this classic study, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson deftly narrates the experience of blacks--former slaves and soldiers, preachers, visionaries, doctors, intellectuals, and common people--during the Civil War. Drawing on contemporary journalism, speeches, books, and letters, he presents an eclectic chronicle of their fears and hopes as well as their es ...more
Paperback, 396 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1965)
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 ·  146 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Pete Skillman
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
The book consists almost totally of primary sources with some commentary stringing them together. I found it difficult to engage with while I was reading because it is not laid out in a narrative form, rather the source material is grouped by subject matter, and not necessarily laid-out in chronological order. I imagine that this will make it an *excellent* reference volume, even if the "story" is hard to follow. ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned quite a bit of new info from this. It's done in a style of having lots of excerpts from mostly harder to find texts from the period, with the author's thoughts as well. I really enjoyed this style. I'd like to read follow-ups to this book done in the same style, maybe on the Harlam [sp] renaissance, civil rights, black panthers/black power, and black lives matter. This is an important book for sure and one everyone should read, imo. ...more
James Bechtel
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Published in 1965.
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Surprisingly tepid review of African American thoughts and actions during the Civil War. Chronological and sparsely analytical. Useful for experts and students of the Civil War.
Pan Ellington
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
comprised mainly of primary source material; personal narratives, military reports, newspaper articles. rich. fascinating.
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good book about an important but overlooked group of the civil war.
Andy Kline
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've walked many Civil War battlefields in the east and the west... read numerous histories. I'm ashamed of my ignorance of the negro's role in this war. "The Negro's Civil War" has begun to fill a huge void in my understanding. ...more
Donna Davis
I am making a note here that I have decided to read it again. There is no way to add both "read" and "currently reading", and I refuse to destroy my earlier stellar rating of this under-read book, so I am putting it here for lack of anywhere better. I'll change my note when I have finished re-reading.

There is no fat in this book. I can't highlight it because I would end up highlighting the entire volume.

It is worthwhile to note that though other resources are available now, this book was written
Deborah Thompson
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was very informative about the role blacks played during the civil war. I was always under the opinion, because of the myths I had been taught growing up, that only a hand full of black had the courage, strength and intelligence to fight for their freedom. This book opened new doors for me and I wish there where more books about the black experience during the civil war other than slave narratives. Don't get me wrong they have their place too but lets make history a little more well ro ...more
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke for itself. McPherson did very little commentating, and instead used quotes from soldiers, activists, and African American newspapers to tell the story of how the African American community participated in the Civil War. Really great read.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: civil-war-nf
Interesting book in that it was more compilation than writing. McPherson really just links extracts from many different historical sources with his words. It was interesting to see how much dissension there was in Black communities during Civil War, including those against Lincoln as too moderate.
Sheila Myers
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: civil-war
Most books about the Civil War tend to focus on the white man's perspective. James McPherson does a great job of telling the story from the eyes of African-Americans. ...more
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James M. McPherson, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University, 1963; B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota), 1958) is an American Civil War historian, and the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. He was the president of the American Historical Association in ...more

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