Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Magazine Review--Civil War Times December 2009

Civil War Times. Weider History Group. December 2009.

How is it possible that December magazine issues are out already? Well they are.

The cover article this month is titled "A Promise Fulfilled" written by noted Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer. Here Holzer deals with the thorny issue of what did the Emancipation Proclamation really do. While maybe not immediately freeing the slaves Holzer says that Lincoln "...all but guaranteed democracy's life and slavery's death...He not only ended the shame of human bondage in America, but helped guarantee the survival of America itself." We meet up with Holzer again on the last page of this issue for his column "Looking at Lincoln" where he deals with a photograph of President Lincoln. This issue deals with the last photo of Lincoln taken: him lying in his coffin in the New York City City Hall Rotunda. The only known copy, squirreled away by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was found in the Nicolay Papers in 1952.

Gary Gallagher discusses the ups and downs in the perception of U.S. Grant in his article "Why Doesn't Grant Get the Love?" George Deutsch introduces us to the Weldon Railroad Raid in "Murder and Mayhem Rides the Rails". In "A White Man's War" Michael Fellman discusses William Sherman and his not wanting black troops. Sherman was many times quoted as saying that black troops were inferior and would run at danger. Fellman puts forth the view that Sherman was allowed to go against the wishes of President Lincoln only because Sherman was a fighter whose victories helped push the larger picture that Lincoln was trying to achieve.

In an interesting article noted British historian John Keegan is asked to rate many of the U.S. Civil War generals. The results are probably not a large shock. Union generals U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman are rated as great with Grant being given the nod as the greatest general of the war. Just below these two is Robert E. Lee who Keegan says "...would have shone in any of the contemporary European wars of maneuver." Just below Lee are Philip Sheridan and Stonewall Jackson who Keegan says could "...psychologically dominate his opponents." George McClellan is given the dishonor of being the lowest rated. Keegan believes him to have been "...utterly incapable of overcoming difficulty."

The issue is rounded out with a series of book reviews. Overall this is a nice issue that is accompanied by vintage photos and many maps. Well worth checking out or subscribing to.

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