Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Showing a familiarity with and enthusiasm for her subject that gives her book a pleasingly personal tone, Manning (history, Georgetown Univ.) examines how both Union and Confederate soldiers viewed slavery and how they perceived its impact on the war. Her extensive research in primary sources (letters, newspapers, etc.) is evident in the text, where the perspectives of the soldiers are projected largely in their own words. Emancipation, equality, and the future of race relations in this country are discussed with the openness of frontline participants who have an investment in the outcome. Southerners reflect on why slavery matters even to non-slaveholders, African American Union soldiers fight for equal rights on the battlefield and within the ranks, Northerners who have never encountered African Americans are humbled when they see the ravages of slavery in the South. While the nobler thoughts of the soldiers are compelling, the most powerful selections are the disconcerting racist opinions from both armies, which come across the years with a shock. Instead of the generalized opinions of a population, these are personal statements with force and feeling. Unfortunately, though Manning is careful to reveal the positive as well as negative attitudes of the soldiers, the chronological narrative bogs down in the repetitiveness of too many voices. While this may supplement large Civil War collections, it is not a necessary purchase. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/06.]-Elizabeth Morris, Barrington Area Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In a thoroughly researched and well-written narrative, Manning (Georgetown) explores how Civil War soldiers--white and black--identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War. Although Lincoln made such a link quite plain in his Second Inaugural, the general public and generations of academic historians, not all of them white Southerners, have tended to ignore what the participants in the Civil War plainly said was the crux of the issues that divided North and South. Using a trove of soldiers' letters and diaries, Manning shows the myriad ways in which white Northern soldiers came to view abolition as the price of peace, even as Southern soldiers--most of whom owned no slaves--tied slavery to their mental model of a divinely ordered universe, and black troops saw the ending of slavery as a springboard toward social and legal equality. In an otherwise well-documented book, Manning does not assist uninitiated readers in placing soldiers' statements in an historical context. Many Northern soldiers believed slavery caused the war, but directed their anger toward Southern slave power, while other soldiers believed slavery was a moral evil. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. E. R. Crowther Adams State College
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Chandra Manning, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, received an M.Phil from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and took her Ph.D. at Harvard in 2002. She has lectured in history at Harvard and taught at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Currently, she is assistant professor of history at Georgetown University and lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband and son. This is her first book.