Sunday, October 19, 2014

The West Point History of the Civil War

by The United States Military Academy, Edited by
Clifford J. Rogers, Ty Siedule & Samuel J. Watson

The United States Military Academy was established at West Point, New York on March 16 1802.  The Academy, colloquially known as “West Point” has and continues to train its cadets in a rigorous four-year program for future service as officers in The United States Army.  Graduates of the academy have led soldiers into battle in every American conflict since the War of 1812, including the Civil War.

New estimates of the put the casualties of the Civil War at over 700,000, a figure more than all other American wars combined.  Officers trained at “The Point” led armies on both sides of the war, and often classmates found themselves opposing each other on opposite sides of the battlefields of the war.  Therefore it is fitting that the Academy has published “The West Point History of the Civil War.”  Published by Simon & Schuster, it is the first volume in a series “The West Point History of Warfare.”

“The West Point History of the Civil War” is a large book of 448 pages, measuring 10.9 x 8.6 x 1.6 inches, and weighing 4.2 pounds.  Its semi-glossy pages are richly illustrated with maps, photographs and illustrations highlighting the personalities, battles, and places of the Civil War era.  The book is divided into 6 chapters, each covering a period or aspect of the war and each written by some of Americas best and most prominent historians:

  • Origins of the Civil War and the Contest for the Borderlands by Mark E. Neely Jr.
  • The War in the East: July 1861-September 1862 by Joseph T. Glatthaar.
  • Lee’s War in the East, by Joseph T. Glatthaar.
  • Grant’s War in the West by Steven E. Woodworth.
  • Coordinated Strategy and Hard War by Earl J. Hess.
  • The End of the War and Reconstruction by James K. Hogue.

An in dept study of the war it is not, but nor does it claim to be.  It is an excellent survey of the war, its battles and its participants.  The maps alone, many of them 2 or 3 page fold-outs, are worth the price of this book, not only are they large and clear, but also include nearly 360° eyelevel panoramas of battlefield terrains as the participants would have seen them 150 years ago.

In addition to the text short thumbnail biographies of the war’s most notable participants are peppered throughout the book, and not only include their birth and death dates, but also when applicable the class in which they graduated from the Academy.

The books thick semi-glossy pages are a perfect format for duplicating the maps, photographs and works of art featured between its covers.  It is a thoroughly beautiful book, and would be completely enjoyable just to thumb through on a rainy day and peruse its many gorgeous illustrations.

“The West Point History of the Civil War” is a fantastic book, and would be an excellent addition to any history lover’s library.  It serves as a great introduction to the Civil War for novices, and I think even heavily read students of the Civil War would take something away from it.

ISBN 978-1476782621, Simon & Schuster, © 2014, Hardcover, 448 pages, 10.9 x 8.6 x 1.6 inches, Maps, Photographs, Illustrations, End Notes & Index. $55.00.  To purchase this book click HERE.

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