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The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolutionby Richard Slotkin
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1862, after a year of protracted fighting, Abraham Lincoln decided on a radical change of strategy--one that abandoned hope for a compromise peace and committed the nation to all-out war. The centerpiece of that new strategy was the Emancipation Proclamation: an unprecedented use of federal power that would revolutionize Southern society. In , Richard Slotkin, a renowned cultural historian, reexamines the challenges that Lincoln encountered during that anguished summer 150 years ago. In an original and incisive study of character, Slotkin re-creates the showdown between Lincoln and General George McClellan, the "Young Napoleon" whose opposition to Lincoln included obsessive fantasies of dictatorship and a military coup. He brings to three-dimensional life their ruinous conflict, demonstrating how their political struggle provided Confederate General Robert E. Lee with his best opportunity to win the war, in the grand offensive that ended in September of 1862 at the bloody Battle of Antietam.
"Historian Slotkin (Regeneration Through Violence) moves from his path-breaking studies of America's cultural mythology of violence to a set piece of real-life carnage in this gripping, multifaceted history of the Civil War's bloodiest day. The author pens a fine narrative of the Battle of Antietam, balancing a lucid overview of strategy and maneuver with subtle, novelistic evocations of the chaos of combat as men 'edg forward step-by-step each time they loaded and aimed, trying to get out of the smoke so they could see better how to shoot.' It's a dramatic saga, full of coups and blunders, but it's just the capstone of Slotkin's searching analysis of the campaigns of 1862, when the conflict, he contends, took a 'revolutionary' turn toward intense bloodshed and radicalism. (Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation immediately after Antietam.) At the center is his vivid rendition of the power struggle between Lincoln and Union generalissimo George McClellan, one of history's great neurotics, who combined paralyzing timidity on the battlefield with grandiose ambition to become a virtual dictator and reverse the abolitionist thrust of Lincoln's policies. Grounding military operations in political calculation and personal character, Slotkin gives us perhaps the richest interpretation yet of this epic of regenerative violence. 10 illus., 8 maps. Agent: Carl Brandt, Brandt and Hochman. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A masterful account of the Civil War's turning point in the tradition of James McPherson's .
About the Author
The author of the award-winning American history trilogy Regeneration Through Violence, The Fatal Environment, and Gunfighter Nation, Richard Slotkin, an emeritus professor at Wesleyan University, won the Shaara Award for Civil War fiction for Abe. He lives in Middletown, Connecticut.
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