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Editor reviews

Prominent American Civil War Historian Professor Gary W. Gallagher examines this merciless part of American history in The American Civil War, part of the Modern History series by The Great Courses. In this unabridged historical series narrated by Gallagher, listeners hear the war’s history, an analysis on how it started and what life was like for those caught within it. The most ruthless and deadly war America has ever seen is its own Civil War that ultimately led to the formation of the United States of America as it is known today. This book captures the birth of modern America. Available now from Audible.

Summary

Between 1861 and 1865, the clash of the greatest armies the Western hemisphere had ever seen turned small towns, little-known streams, and obscure meadows in the American countryside into names we will always remember. In those great battles, those streams ran red with blood - and the United States was truly born.

If you've ever wanted to understand the Civil War, this series of 48 startlingly evocative lectures by a leading Civil War historian can serve as both an ideal single course or a solid starting point for further exploration - a richly detailed examination of how this great conflict affected every person in America. For you'll gain not only a deep knowledge of what happened, but new insights into why.

You'll learn how both sides' armies were recruited, equipped, and trained, and about the hard lot of those they took prisoner. You'll hear how soldiers on each of those sides dealt with the rigors of camp life, campaigns, and the terror of combat. And you'll understand how slaves and their falling masters responded to the advancing war, as well as the desperate price paid by the families so many left behind.

Though this series of lectures goes far beyond a simple examination of battles and generals, it also offers detailed analyses of the strategic and tactical dimensions of the Civil War's most important campaigns. At the same time, it never forgets that the conflict involved far more than pins on a map - and indeed claimed a greater cost in human lives than all other American wars combined.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses

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Spectacularly great history.

Any additional comments?

I bought this because it looked excellent value and my intention was to get through it in about 12 weeks. I've had it a week now and I'm up to lecture 40 of 48 ! It has surpassed all of my expectations. It's compulsively interesting, told with great verve and authority, yet never solemn nor condescending. Every aspect of the war is covered, it's not in any way a succession of battles and skirmishes, although nothing is left out. There is fascinating discussion of politics, slavery, women's roles, social attitudes, economics, technology, you name it and you'll probably find it. Lincoln plays a massive role and it's interesting to get the low down on Grant and Lee. The pace is fast moving but not so fast you don't have time to picture and imagine it, just right in fact. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who is interested in real history.

P.S. people complaining about the 'pompous' music at the start of each lecture ought to chill out, the one on here is Brandenburg concerto 2 by JS Bach. Get the album, it's sublime.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Thoroughly entertaining and authoritative.

A tremendous series of lectures. If you only get one account of the civil war, this should be the one. A breathtaking achievement by professor Gallagher.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very long and detailed

Although long and very detailed it fails to explore the effects of the events of the war but it still provide excellent background knowledge for such things

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A resounding audio book.

A great base to enthuse further research into this fascinating period of American history. Broken down into logical chapters that covers not just the military perspective but also the social economics of the period.

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Nice introduction to the conflict

The series provides a sound overview of the war and introduces themes that warrant greater study. A fine introduction to the subject.

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Superb piece of work

Brilliant starting point for all things " Civil war" , superb piece of work, must have!

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Disappointed

Oh dear I had high hopes for this one but they got smashed. very brief very little detail A lot of points missed out. Won't be buying any more of these to listen to. that's for certain

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  • Trez
  • London
  • 20-02-18

Excellent, well presented compelling historical narration

I can say in words how well I enjoyed this and how easy it was to absorb and internalise. This has as much to do with the knowledge and presentation of the prof as the content.
This was a brilliant prerequisite for further reading having laid out all the salient points with all the dramatis personae covered in great detail with their battles fought. The presentation is in places very witty. I had very little interest of the American Civil war but now this has opened up new worlds for me. Highly recommended!

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Fantastic<br />


All you need to know about ACW packed in a 24hr pill. will definitely listen to it again as it's impossible to remember all the facts and anecdotes.

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Captivating

Loved it. It was powerful, insightful, well structured and always made you feel youe wanted more.

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  • Rodney
  • 09-07-13

Excellent Series

I purchased this series years ago from The Teaching Company, thus the reason I can write a review on the day it's released on Audible. It's great to have this on Audible, and is a tremendous value.

Professor Gallagher is a world class instructor and this series works very well in the audio format. Since this is a series of 30-min lectures it's very easy to follow and if you want a refresher it's easy to go back and find whatever you're looking for.

I've read probably a hundred Civil War books at this point, and this lecture was the first in-depth I listened to that got me started and interested in the subject. It's a great book for all levels, but certainly the less you know the more you're learn -- this is a great introduction and even if you already know most everything this is an excellent way to refresh your knowledge.

Highly recommended, 5 stars.

52 of 53 people found this review helpful

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  • Robin
  • 08-07-13

Superb, Balanced History

Professor Gallagher's course on The American Civil War is the best, most insightful introduction to the subject in any medium. Any listener, from a beginner to an expert, will gain from his profound, unbiased presentation of the most important event in our history.

34 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Anibal Nunez
  • 29-05-15

A Sweeping Overview.

Any additional comments?

This course is a favorite of mine because Professor Gallagher took the time to express the the viewpoints (to the best of his expert knowledge) of the common people of that era.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 06-08-16

Gold Standard of History Courses

Where does The American Civil War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Overall: A very well-done course on all things American Civil War from the military history of the war and non-military events such as the emancipation, life on the home front, the diplomatic front, etc. The professor’s teaching style and wealth of information he brought to the table would help anyone learn something new about this topic. I can't imagine anyone walking away saying they didn't learn something new.

Pluses:
• An excellent detailed narrative of the origins of the Civil War, the military history of the war, and study into non-military events such as the emancipation, life on the home front, the diplomatic front, etc.
• The professor really helps the listener understand and feel what people of the time went through whether as a soldier or someone on the home front
• Tidbits that the Professor shared about the characters were interesting and the way he worked in humor to the character sketches kept me engaged
• Lectures 16 & 17 on the Emancipation Proclamation were some of my favorites

It was very hard to find any kind of flaws with this course. Which is even more amazing when you consider that I seem to lose interest in any course over 36 lectures long but I just had to listen to the next lecture and the next in this amazing course. If I must provide some minuses here they would be but are so minor to barely warrant mention:

• The professor had a habit of modulating his voice between speaking really low to really loud; He’d start a sentence too loud and end it too low; This made it very difficult at times to select a volume that would prevent me from having difficulty hearing him without being annoyed by the loud bursts
• While the professor did a good job of discussing the importance of some of the lesser-known battles in the campaign and stressed the strategic and tactical importance of each in such a way that there was a nice build-up to the events and discussion of the aftermath, something almost seemed lacking when he discussed Gettysburg and Appomattox; he did not seem to bring the same narrative build-up of these events that had me so riveted with the others

All in all I would highly recommend this course if you have any interest n US history. This is the gold standard by which all other history courses should be taught,

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Carole T.
  • 19-08-13

Welcome to Audible, Great Courses!

I have been a fan of the Great Courses for a long time. The two biggest drawbacks were price and difficulty of download. So, hooray for Audible for bringing us this collection!

"The American Civil War" is a terrific overview. I have recently moved to "Civil War country" near Antietam and am especially glad to refresh my memory of lessons past and add new knowledge about this subject.

Professor Gallagher gives us military information, of course, but there's also much about the political, social (regional, racial, etc) and other ramifications of the conflict. I especially enjoyed lectures about what was going on at the homefront on both sides during the war - and the attention to the experiences of women and African Americans (slave and free). It's not difficult to understand, hearing this recording, why we still live with so much "baggage" from the Civil War. Also, how fortunate we have been since to experience no warfronts on our homeland.

I learned a great deal from this course and highly recommend it!

31 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • RedDogRunning
  • 13-01-17

Excellent for a good grounding in the Civil War

Any additional comments?

I felt the need for a comprehensive course on The American Civil War after reading several good books centered on that cataclysmic event.“The American Civil War” written and narrated by Professor Gary W. Gallager fulfilled my expectations perfectly.

I have, over the course of a lifetime, picked up the usual sketchy understanding of the American Civil War common to most folks growing up and living on the West Coast – not much really. This course of 48 30-minute lectures was a perfect solid introduction. Now I can read history of this era with the confidence that I have a good broad based understanding of the sequence of events as well as their relative significance to the big picture.

Professor Gallager delivered a lively and fascinating presentation. I was never bored, but, rather, had a tough time interrupting my listening to meet the demands of life. This was not just a study of civil war military action, but it also dove into life on the home front (both Northern and Confederate).

I had never fully appreciated all the political pressure that drove so many decisions by the many military commanders in this tragic struggle - Professor Gallager was a huge help here.

I experienced dozens of epiphanies while listening to this course. One stood out - I found it surprising to learn that, until the Civil War, nursing had been strictly a male profession. Professor Gallager provided a fascinating explanation of how this evolved, and why, during the war.

Even if you feel you are well versed in The American Civil War, there is much you will find here as you refresh your knowledge of this country’s civil war history - this crucible in which our democracy experienced such a searing test of fire.

I highly recommend this course.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Don Mathews
  • 12-03-15

Excellent!!!

Held my attention the entire time. So much detail and information but it felt so alive! Great books are a great bargain.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 16-03-14

Thorough and balanced treatment

What did you love best about The American Civil War?

I was a history major in college but devoted most of my studies to 20th Century history. I always wanted to learn more about the Civil War and this course was perfect. A fantastic presentation and great selection of topics covering a wide variety of social, military, and political issues. Dr. Gallagher is an engaging lecturer and does an excellent job of cutting through many of the post-war myths and misconceptions and focusing on contemporary accounts.

What did you like best about this story?

The variety of topics and depth of treatment.

What does Professor Gary W. Gallagher bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Engaging lecturer with a clear enthusiasm for the subject matter.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The continued references to and quotation from contemporary, primary source material added great "human interest" to an already fascinating topic.

Any additional comments?

Outstanding in every respect.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Anthony
  • 28-02-14

Incredible.

Where does The American Civil War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the very top.

What other book might you compare The American Civil War to and why?

If you've read 1776 by David McCullough, it reads much like that but greatly expanded and covering the great depth of the civil war throughout each year of it. From the political, social, military, foreign perspective Professor Gallagher shines a bright light over one of the darkest periods of American history. I've always had an affinity for American history, the revolution in particular. This gave great depth and insight into the time and tensions of the nation. Very rich in battle history, and parsed with quotes and letters throughout. Its an extremely captivating listen.

Which character – as performed by Professor Gary W. Gallagher – was your favorite?

I dont know so much if he performed any character per say, but he definitely gives deep insight and character to each historical figure. And will quote from letters or diaries at length to give context and meaning to actions by individuals.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

All you needed to know and more.

Any additional comments?

A really great use of a credit.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim
  • 17-09-14

A good Civil War 101 Course

Did Professor Gary W. Gallagher do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Professor Gallagher is an expert on the Civil War and I've actually read quite a few of his works. This lecture series could go on for years and could be subdivided into many different courses but for an introductory course, this is an excellent job. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants and overview of the main themes and characters of the Civil War. I think anyone wanting to delve in to Shelby Foote's three-volume narrative of the conflict should start here.

Any additional comments?

It's just a pet peeve of mine but each lecture starts and ends with polite "gold clap" applause. It's obviously fake and inserted after the fact and it is really unnecessary. It's irritating to me, like fingers-on-a-chalkboard irritating. I'm giving it 3-stars for the performance because, well this is a lecture and I don't expect a dramatic reading and because of those silly "golf claps."

21 of 25 people found this review helpful