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Mr. Lincoln's Army

Narrated by: Kevin T. Collins
Series: The Army of the Potomac, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 20 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

A magnificent history of the opening years of the Civil War by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bruce Catton.

The first book in Bruce Catton's Pulitzer Prize-winning Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Mr. Lincoln's Army is a riveting history of the early years of the Civil War, when a fledgling Union Army took its stumbling first steps under the command of the controversial general George McClellan. Following the secession of the Southern states, a beleaguered President Abraham Lincoln entrusted the dashing, charismatic McClellan with the creation of the Union's Army of the Potomac and the responsibility of leading it to a swift and decisive victory against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Although a brilliant tactician who was beloved by his troops and embraced by the hero-hungry North, McClellan's ego and ambition ultimately put him at loggerheads with his commander in chief - a man McClellan considered unworthy of the presidency.

McClellan's weaknesses were exposed during the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, which ended in a stalemate even though the Confederate troops were greatly outnumbered. After Antietam, Lincoln ordered McClellan's removal from command, and the Union entered the war's next chapter having suffered thousands of casualties and with great uncertainty ahead.

America's premier chronicler of the nation's brutal internecine conflict, Bruce Catton is renowned for his unparalleled ability to bring a detailed and vivid immediacy to Civil War battlefields and military strategy sessions. With tremendous depth and insight, he presents legendary commanders and common soldiers in all their complex and heartbreaking humanity.

©1951, 1962 Bruce Catton (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Profile Image for L or D Day
  • L or D Day
  • 28-07-16

Very poor reader with great material

The Army of the Potomac is one of the finest Civil War series ever written. Bruce Catton, the former editor of American Heritage, was a natural story teller and this series is one of his two master works; the last book in the series was awarded a Pulitzer. The Army of the Potomac focuses on the development & growth of the officers and men of the federal army, unusual in civil war histories which tend to focus on the Confederacy which, more often than not treat the federals as a backdrop for the confederacy. This series explains why the larger, better equipped federal army struggled so fiercely against the confederacy and often fell so short, avoiding the trap of lionizing the outsized personalities of R.E.Lee and T.J.Jackson which overshadow their early federal counterparts. He also shows that it wasn't so much the brilliance of Gen's Lee & Jackson (not a Napolean in sight) but rather a broken federal system that turned the rebellion in Virginia, into a four year bloody slog. The Army of the Potomac pays tribute to the million or so men who actually fought the war to hold the republic together.

Unfortunately, this wonderful series is butchered by a dismal reader. Mr Collins has no sense of dramatic timing while telling the tale of this most dramatic of wars, his elocution is forced, and words are pronounced as if delivering a lesson to a grade school full of bored students. There isn't a touch of natural timing in his delivery and I wound up speeding up the recording in order to make the listening tolerable. I might have returned it had I not waited nearly 10 years for an audio version of this series.

Final summary, this series is a civil war cannon ranking among the greats. The reader, not so much.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • foxprojects
  • 28-08-16

Great story, Unlistenable audiobook

Painful narration ruined what should have been an otherwise great book by a great author.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-08-16

Classic book, Abysmal narration.

Who could possibly have approved Mr. Collins as a suitable narrator for this well known book?! His manner of speech and frequent mispronunciations are so distracting as to make it challenging to focus on the material.
That said...the book is otherwise a treat and is chock full of anecdotal tales of the two amateur armies who found themselves in a shooting war that would expand far beyond anyone's darkest fears.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Ann Modarelli
  • Ann Modarelli
  • 05-11-19

Great book, average reader

Catton's writing is exceptional as always. A truly insightful and revealing perspective on the Army of the Potomac in the Civil War. His depiction of McClellan is particularly good. Much Civil War literature focuses on the romance of the South. R E Lee, and the Army of Northern Virginia. Catton's work does a great job of balancing these scales and portraying the Union Army with skill, understanding, and a gift of turn of phrase.
My only negative is the reader - an uninspired reading with lack of sense for the text. Catton's writing is elevated, polished, and at times even sublime - the reader misses this often with poor cadence, mispronunciation, and failure to correctly interpret the intended rhythm of the passages. a real missed opportunity.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • arussellga
  • 05-10-19

Great Writer

This is a terrific book and Catton is one of the best ever. Utterly abysmal narrator.

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  • Pastor Wesley
  • 02-10-19

Civil War Buffs MUST Read Bruce Catton

For all fans and history buffs of the Civil War, Bruce Catton is required reading. The depth of his knowledge and research is astounding. Catton balances the background of each battle with the tactics, geography, weather conditions, weapons, and such. This is woven in with the human story--each of its major players is fleshed out, from their appearance, demeanor and speech patterns to their very conversations and letters. Anecdotes are liberally sprinkled in to fill out the narrative, giving life and breath to the real men who actually fought the battles. This is not merely just history, it reads like a historical novel. Catton makes the story and characters come to life, and you are drawn into the story such that you begin to feel anger, sadness, joy and sorrow as you are carried along in the tale.
My only criticism is not with Catton himself, but with the narrator. He reads so slowly and precisely that it is painful. I found that when I sped up the recording to 1.5X, it was much easier to listen to,

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  • Seldon J. Childers
  • 16-09-19

Hands down the beat civil history I have ever read


For whatever reason, I’ve never heard of Bruce. His command of the facts– letters from all parties involved, contemporaneous materials, politics of the day, and so much more – all combined with some of the best rating I’ve ever read in any history make this book superlative.

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  • Gardeneroh
  • 24-04-19

Great book. Worst reader I’ve ever heard.

Bruce Catton has once again written a wonderful book; his depth of knowledge and vividness of description are of the highest quality. Nevertheless, I can only listen to this book in small chunks before I can no longer bear the narrator’s shrill voice, gasping breath, and single-pitch reading. Bruce Catton’s work is worth it—but—after a while it’s physically painful to listen to.

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  • Samuel Shurtleff
  • 27-05-18

Catton Classic

Loved every bit of this classic. Crucial understanding of The Army of the Potomac and its role in the opening months of the American Civil War.

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  • Mark Mears
  • 25-04-18

Bruce Catton is a must

A must for anyone who wants to learn about the Civil War. I’ve read (or listened to) several, and happily have more to go.