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America Goes to War

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  10 reviews
s/t: The Civil War & Its Meaning in American Culture
A fascinating study of the first modern war and its effect on American Culture.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Wesleyan University Press (first published February 15th 1992)
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May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-acw
Based upon a series of lectures given by the author at Wesleyan University, these 100 odd pages pack considerable punch. It's especially interesting how Catton ties discussion of the ACW to his contemporaries' experience with McCarthyism and the rising Civil Rights Movement. A discussion with relevance to the challenges our Democracy continues to face.

I'd recommend it for anyone interested in the ACW and say it's a must read for anyone who loves Catton's style.
Cindy Marsch
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reviews
Now I know why I've heard Bruce Catton's name so much through the decades. He was born in 1899, fought in WWI after his first months at college (he never went back), and died in the midst of the Cold War - one of the most affecting passages in this short book is his reminiscence of old Civil War veterans from his childhood. Catton's writing shows a genius for capturing the spirit of his subjects and speaking with self-confident authority about them. We sit at his feet to learn of our ancestors.
Max Shenk
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written over 50 years ago, but just as important now as ever. Catton puts the Civil War in perspective and explains why it's important to us to understand its lessons and relevance today. Cautionary in some ways. Recommended.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This wonderful little book was written by one of the finest Civil War historians around. He examines anew some of the reasons we went to war and then looks at how the war has meaning for our culture today. A fine introduction to the conflict.
Lewis Millholland
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book came out in 1958 and it *feels* like it came out in 1958, with public consciousness still on World War II and the shadow of the Cold War looming. There's plenty of talk about American exceptionalism, the implicit superiority of the western way of life, and other products of the era that inflect Catton's perspective of the Civil War. So I'll question the conclusions of this book, sure, but I'm not reading any book with the expectation of blindly accepting its contents. If anything I'm ...more
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this short book, consisting of 6 independent essays, a good start to learning more about the Civil War. Of course 6 essays is nowhere near enough to address all of the complexities, but it gave me a taste of some of the broad issues and introduced some of the players names. As a bonus I could read 1 essay each day while at lunch and not feel like I was having to play catch up every time.
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the first of a handful of very short books I took out of the library for casual reading over the 4th of July weekend. Catton's theme here is that modern war destroys pre-war society; the victors may think they can return to pre-war life, but they can't, it's gone.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Not a classic because it seems that Catton threw this together and failed to inject his superb prose. However, most of the arguments here are still popular with historians. of course it helps that Catton was a great historian.
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Short book from 1959 by eminent Civil War historian. Mildly interesting; barest of introductions to topic.
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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 ...more

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