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Civil War

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  308 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews

Infinitely readable and absorbing, Bruce Catton’s The Civil War is one of the best-selling, most widely read general histories of the war available in a single volume. Newly introduced by the critically acclaimed Civil War historian James M. McPherson, The Civil War vividly traces one of the most moving chapters in American history, from the early division between the Nort

Hardcover, 3 in 1, 730 pages
Published December 12th 1988 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1952)
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Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This isn't anything like Shelby Foote's trilogy. Let's start with that.

When you're a respected scholar of the Civil War, and you write a trilogy on that subject, there are going to be comparisons to Foote's enormous and consistently awesome The Civil War: A Narrative. It's not fair, of course, but neither is my car breaking down twice in one week.

I had Foote in mind when I started Bruce Catton's Civil War, which is comprised of Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. Rig
John Nelson
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains three of Bruce Catton's books in a single volume: Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox, the last of which won Catton a Pulitzer Prize. Although the volume's title indicates that it is a history of the entire Civil War, the three books it includes actually cover only one front - the decisive eastern front between Washington D.C. and Richmond - and are tightly focused on the northern army. A complete history of the war would have required the author to c ...more
Omar Ali
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read these a long time ago, just got reminded of them today somehow. Great writing. I am sure new research and new perpectives have appeared since then, so some of the information may be dated. But most of what I know of the civil war, I learned from these books.
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bruce Catton's Civil War is not as sweeping as one would expect from the title. In fact, in this three-volume set (Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox), Mr. Catton focuses his energy specifically on the Army of the Potomac. Anyone who has read my other Catton reviews can probably predict what I will say next: in a word, brilliant. I have yet to find an author who is so adept at teaching me things I did not know about the Civil War, nor have I found anyone who has had su ...more
Mark Neuer
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Almost 300 pages left. yeah This book is very informative on the Army of the Pottomic and how the Lincoln administration nearly destroyed it by manhandling it. The 1860's was a time of deceit and corruption. Everybody was trying to get rich on the back of this unlucky army and the policies of the political powers of the day. Lincoln was constantly being played for the patsy by his cabinet. If they weren't trying to defame him, they were trying to get his job or suck in so much power that would ...more
James P. Klag
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second re-read of the trilogy which made up the first three volumes in my library. Mom bought the book club editions for me back in the early '60s. Bruce Catton was the finest story-teller among Civil War historians. While he always seemed to put the story first, his scholarship was excellent and his books have stood the test of time. The Army Of The Potomac trilogy is necessarily written from the Union viewpoint but Catton more than does justice to those who fought for the South, unl ...more
Steven Peterson
Mar 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the final volume in a trilogy on the Army of the Potomac. Bruce Catton writes superbly; this book reads very well. The book begins with a harebrained scheme advanced by, among others, General Judson Kilpatrick (often called Kill Cavalry for his willingness to engage in dangerous actions), to have cavalry raid Richmond. And the book ends with General Ulysses Grant riding off to meet General Robert E. Lee for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The book proceeds through Grant's
Erik Graff
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I read Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War (1961-65) much before getting around to his Army of the Potomac (1951-53) trilogy, thinking that the latter might be too focused to be as interesting. I was wrong, but it was beneficial to read the latter work before the former in order to have the background.

This book is almost as much about the struggles of Abraham Lincoln with his generals, particularly George B. McClellan--a struggle reflected as well in electoral politics, as it is about
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Catton is a very skilled writer. The pages turn themselves. If movies were made into book, this would be the book. Entertaining, vivid, and shallow. Alas.

One fears that at times Mr. Catton took too many liberties in his descriptions of people and events. Lightly footnoted, which makes it hard to tell when he's drawing on sources and when he's drawing on his imagination.

Four stars for a skill at telling the big picture with just enough fine detail to make it all come to startling life. A great ge
Chris Wolfington
Not a military history, with in-depth descriptions and analysis of campaigns. There are general campaign outlines and anecdotes of the generals, but that's it. The real strength is how he tells about the battles from the soldiers' points of view. You can see the battlefields in your head...the sweeping landscapes, the smoke and crack of the muskets...pretty good stuff as far as "action scenes" go.
May 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent series for someone who is just beginning to develop an interest in the Civil War. It lacks the detail and complexity of Shelby Foote's history or even Bruce Catton's second trilogy. But it is well-written and provides a wealth of information about the important military leaders and their battles in Virginia.
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent introduction to the history of the Army of the Potomac which includes lots of interesting background, particularly of the politics involved. Catton uses the words of the soldiers themselves to tell the story in this very engaging and informative read
May 20, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
RA to Non-fic
Aug 31, 2010 rated it liked it
The first volume of the three part series...."Mr. Lincoln's Army."
Bob Young
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read these three books about 30 years ago and they set the hook as far as my interest in the Civil War goes...great stories told told surpassingly well...truly enjoyable...
Cath Holden
Dec 20, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A jim Bailey recommended book
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Massive detail but little analysis. A good reference for the Union Armies but very weak on the other side.
Bryan Hext
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book for true history researchers.
Big Bill
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine trio of books on the Civil War, albeit only about the main Union army, the Army of the Potomac. I have read almost all of Mr. Catton's books,
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Catton was known as a narrative historian who specialized in popular histories that emphasized the colorful characters and vignettes of history, in addition to the simple dates, facts, and analysis. His works, although well-researched, were generally not presented in a rigorous academic style, supported by footnotes. In the long line of Civil War historians, Catton is arguably the most prolific an ...more
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