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War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta
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War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  105 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Called “the greatest event of the Civil War” by New York diarist George Templeton Strong, the epic struggle for the city of Atlanta in the bloody summer of 1864 was a pivotal moment in American history. Union commander William Tecumseh Sherman’s relentless fight for the city secured the reelection of Abraham Lincoln, sealed the fate of the Southern Confederacy, and set a p ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published September 2nd 2009 by Westholme Publishing (first published 2009)
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Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A very engaging read from beginning to end. The author is himself from Atlanta, and the book starts off with the opening premier of Gone with the Wind, and ends up with the resurrection of Atlanta from the literal ashes left behind in Sherman's wake. Interestingly enough, there's a segment on Sherman's return speaking engagement to Atlanta long after the end of the war. It's a pretty comprehensive and very balenced study of the campaign and the city itself. The book is not particularly kind to S ...more
Greg Fanoe
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Greg by: Nick Black
Shelves: nonfiction
Very readable and gives some great info on the greatest city in the USA. I love the way it incorporates copious amounts of contemporary sources. In fact, it's really expert how well he incorporates all the things that go into a great history book: contemporary accounts from the major players and side players, contemporary accounts from civilians, modern analysis, historical context, biographies of key players, histories of key places, interesting tidbits, etc. But yet it never feels forced or pu ...more
Nick Black
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nick by: Winston Groom (WSJ)
Pretty much a perfect book. I'll have more to say, but this was quite extraordinary.
Amazon 2009-08-31. With any luck, I will have this read before the official publication date (2009-09-02). Two fierce new Atlanta books in one summer, huzzah (! That WSJ review is pretty good reading in and of itself.

Man, I'm sorry, but I can't mention this without quoting Sherman's brilliant letter to Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun:
Gentleman: I have your letter of the 11
Derek Weese
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was not the book I expected, and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
I expected a more military centric story with details of exactly how Sherman was able to invest Atlanta and repel Hood's ferocious attempts to break the siege. That story was certainly there, and it was wonderfully told. But this book is also a story of the people of Atlanta, and of the city itself. In fact you could make the case that this book is a love letter to the city of Atlanta in general, and it's a beautiful o
Josh Liller
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well-written book about the fighting around Atlanta during the Civil War and the subsequent occupation and burning of the city. Does a good job of presenting perspective on the size and condition of Atlanta before the battle and burning. Also good at addressing the myths and misunderstandings about it, even talking about "Gone With The Wind" in more than just passing.

Focuses more on the people and experiences than the tactics and strategy of the battles and skims over the several month long camp
Zachary Cole
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good read. The only complaint is that it had me wanting to know more about the Battle of Atlanta, especially with a focus on the Southern Viewpoint. Very neutral and in comparison to other works that dance to close to the line of historical revisionism, refreshing in it's approach to "just the facts mam."
Robert Jones
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was born in Kentucky, a border state, to a proudly southern-allied family. Cousins of mine fly the Confederate flag, and at least one uncle has traced his heritage - and mine, I suppose - to find a Confederate soldier. My immediate family moved to Maryland, another border state, when I was young. I was raised in a fairly liberal environment, and taught a strictly pro-Union version of the Civil War in school. Most people were, I imagine, especially north of the Mason-Dixon Line. So I like to im ...more
John Kelley
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In order to be an excellent historian, you must know how to write and keep the reader's interest. That is exactly what Russell S Bonds achieved with his history of the "Battle and Burning of Atlanta." Many books have been written about the Atlanta campaing and the subsequent destruction of Atlanta, but none effectively told the story in such of way as to tie all the events from General John B Hood's rise to command the Army of the Cumberland and to the day General William Tecumseh Sherman began ...more
Matt Kuhns
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
War Like the Thunderbolt seems to cover “the Battle and Burning of Atlanta” quite adequately, certainly for the non-specialist, providing context, particulars of the events, personality portraits of many who took part, and thoughtful exploration of the events’ legacy both in their own era and in ours.

It’s also a very enjoyable story. Bonds makes good use of anecdote and, what really impressed me, of quotes. He constantly sprinkles in quotes from a wide, wide range of “characters” involved in the
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sherlock Holmes never said, "Elementary, my dear Watson" and General Sherman never said,"War is hell." But that's what he did, give hell to the South. Everyone knows of the burning of Atlanta from the film, "Gone With the Wind." Less known is Sherman's bombardment of Atlanta, including its civilians, and his mass expulsion of Atlanta's citizens from the city after he captured it. Sherman was a relentless warrior opposed by another warrior, General Hood. Hood threw away his men in futile charges ...more
Beth Sattes
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I knew very little about the southern parts of the Civil War. This tells the story of the battles of Atlanta in a well-written, dispassionate manner; I think both sides are well-represented. I can't get my head around war and why men (generally) are willing to fight and throw themselves into what seems to be sure death, but somehow I am fascinated by reading about it--at least when it is well-written. This is a great read. Not too sure that Southerners would find it palatable because so much of ...more
Christina Jacqueline Jacqueline
This is a really good book. I started it as part of a research project for a theater production. I ended up using a lot of the primary source material quoted in the book. But, it was a great read as well. It gives the reader a really clear picture of the lead up to the Battle of Atlanta, and more interestingly (to me at least) the characters of the big personalities involved - specifically Sherman and Johnston. I would recommend this book to anyone. I read primarily historical fiction about the ...more
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bonds succeeds again in bringing a fresh perspective to Civil War history. Just as in his previous book, Stealing the General, Bonds illuminates a subject we think we know well and comes up with new insights and poignant anecdotes. He objectively assesses the leaders on both sides and pulls no punches. He explains the Atlanta campaign, its strategy and tactics, its place in the overall conduct of the war, its political implications, and its effect on the people involved, from civilian residents ...more
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very good overview of the second half of the Atlanta campaign, the portion fought around the city itself. While not going into much detail about each engagement, the author explains the effect of the battles on the campaign and points out the strengths and weaknesses in each army commander's performance.

However, I do have a couple small criticisms. First, while the author does a good job covering the Confederate corps commanders and Union army commanders, he doesn't go into much detail of the lo
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book detailing the Battle of Atlanta. During the Civil War, Atlanta was the main supply area for the Confederacy. In 1864, Union general William T. Sherman and his men invaded and burned Atlanta. He made his famous March to the sea burning Atlanta and destroying its railways (Which his men made Sherman neckties where they took the metal railroad tie and heated it and wrapped it around a tree). He made his way to Savannah and destroyed it as well. What was also intriguing, Was that h ...more
Lynn Williams
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The civil war campaign of Atlanta

I enjoyed the book. It gives descriptive information leading up to the burning of Atlanta. Several people are discussed to give information about how it actually touched human lives as they were involved in this major historical event of the civil war. I would highly recommend the book especially to those interested in history concerning the civil war and Atlanta.
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed his book 'Stealing the General' and I have to say this one was equally as good. A really good overview of the Atlanta campaign. His apologies for Hood get a little tiresome at points but, hey the old woodenhead can't catch a break in many other histories so I let it slide. Well written and engaging....
James LaRoche
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent source for detailed descriptions of the personalities of military leaders of both Confederate and Federal armies. As well, Bonds provides many eyewitness accounts from infantrymen and civilian residents of Atlanta.

I thank my stars that I have not had to experience Hell-on-Earth as those folks did.
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Excellent book about the city and people of Atlanta before and during the seige of Atlanta of 1864. Also the book discusses the various battles during the seige but the focus is the citizens of the city. Also read "Bonfire: the Seige and Burning of Atlanta" by Marc Wortman.
Both books are excellent
Robert Glustrom
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most recent book on the battle of Atlanta. Well written with some decent background on the key players and the politics of the confederacy. Read if you have a deep interest in detail otherwise it will be a lot of inside baseball.
Cara Mcnulty
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I kept remembering the scene of Atlanta burning in "Gone with the wind. Fresh style and fast paced. As Sherman tightens the noose around Atlanta, Bonds provides the reader with a memorable and moving portrait of a besieged city.
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting insightful read about the battle for and burning of Atlanta. Easy read because the author made it read more like a novel than a dry history book. It explains some of the ongoing animosity between North and South in the United States.
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