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Cry Havoc!: The Crooked Road to Civil War, 1861

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  65 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In early March 1861, civil war loomed. By late April, Americans had begun to kill their fellow citizens. Cry Havoc! recounts in riveting detail the events that divided the states and reveals how quirks of timing, character, and place all conspired to transform the nation into a battlefield. Nelson Lankford, author of Richmond Burning, chronicles the eight critical weeks th ...more
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Published February 1st 2007 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mike Rogers
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is unlike any other Civil War history that I've ever read as it deals not with battles, but with the politics of secession and the often-overlooked events that led the North and South to full fledged civil war. With this micro-history approach, Lankford has composed an intricate, wonderfully written, day-by-day and sometimes hour-by-hour account of the crooked road to Civil War.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A minutely detailed reconstruction of events from Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861 to late April 1861, with the intention of proving that there were many opportunities to put off the Civil War. It focuses on the "Mid-South", i.e. the border states. The detail was interesting and enlightening, but I did not find the argument persuasive.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I somehow, painfully, managed to read 32% of this horrible book. Just a bunch of "if" this, then "that's"! Poorly written, in my opinion, and nothing more than the authors opinions of what "might" have happened.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous, well done, and informative.
Porter Broyles
I'm a huge history buff and particularly enjoy the period leading up to the Civil War. How did we end up in a war? Why? Could it have been averted?

I grabbed this book with vigor and excitement. But finished it fairly disappointed. The book left me wanting more. The writing was OK and the argument was meh.

If you are looking for a good book on the causes of the Civil War, then I highly recommend Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 by Elizabeth Varon.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book most illuminating on the quandry that "the border states" contended with in 1861, as Lincoln prepared to assume the US presidency.

As a "foreigner" I've read reasonably widely on the American Civil War itself, but had not (until this book) examined in any depth the competing political and personal loyalties that confronted the people of those states adjoining (the eventual) North. Until now, I had a notion that all Confederate states seceded reasonably simultaneously. "Cry Havoc
Chris Rippel
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many history books speed through southern secession and Lincoln's call for volunteers to get to the supposedly more exciting attack on Fort Sumter and the early battles. This is the first book providing enough detail of the thoughts and mood and process of southern succession that, for the first time, I feel I understand the true role of the firing on Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for volunteers in starting the Civil War. And why Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland did not succeed from the union. T ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A marvelous book that chronicles the tumultuous period between Lincoln's inauguration up to the end of May 1861. Lankford does a fine job of demonstrating how little events could have changed the course of the Civil War during those weeks, events largely forgotten now but extremely important at the time. He also gives a detailed account of events in Baltimore during April 1861, which included the infamous Pratt Street Riot. An excellent book.
Acid Braden
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-civil-war
This was a really interesting book. While it looks at a very narrow period of the war, or rather right up to it, it does not lack for depth or interest. Anyone interested in how the war got started, and learning a lot about the time you might not have known, should read this book.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at the few days when the course of the US could have been changed and those in charge decided to jump off the cliff.
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