Archive for the ‘civil war’ Category

I haven’t been able to post weekend book reviews of Nonfictions in a while so here is one!  Why is this posted?  Because Pastors need a break from heavy theological readings too.


James M. McPherson.  Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. New York, NY: The Penguin Press, October 7th, 2008. 329 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

The author James McPherson is a distinguished Civil War historian and author of books on the topic of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.  In this book he narrows his focus to Abraham Lincoln as the military leader of the Union in terms of the Constitutionally given role of Commander in Chief.  In the beginning of the book McPherson made the point that while there are many books about Abraham Lincoln as a politician and there are many books on the military dimension of the Civil War yet surprisingly there’s not that much discussion of Lincoln as the Civilian commander of the military.  Certainly this book makes an important contribution.


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After yesterday’s post on how the Gospel and the Christian worldview shapes all that we do should be for the glory of God, I thought I share a more fun read that I finished a few weeks back.  We must read also for the glory of God, even with historical reading.  I will give first a review of the book itself and provide in the end a brief Christian reflection so that the Christian reflection doesn’t take away from my review of the book.

The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War by Leonard L Richards

Leonard L. Richards.  The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War.  New York, NY: Knopf, February 13th, 2007. 304 pp.

This turned out to have been quite a fun read largely because the author was able to present a non-stop account of the many interesting personalities during an interesting time period of American history’s pre-Civil War days.  The book is about California’s influence upon the sectional divide between the States and also how the people and interests of the different parts of the United States shaped the politics and direction of California.  Before this I never really thought much about how California’s role in the undercurrent that led to the Civil War.


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This Republic of Suffering

Drew Gilpin Faust. This Republic of Suffering.  New York, NY: Knopf, January 8th, 2008. 368 pp.

This books look on the subject of death during the American Civil War.  The author made the point that the business of dying and also taking of life is work. From this point the writer explores the cultural, social and spiritual aspect of death during the war and also how the war changed people’s perceptions about death, life and spirituality.

I found the book insightful with how the author described the pre-war Victorian era assumption of the good death that involves dying at home among family members.  The author also noted that this scenery of the good death was not only important for the person dying but also for the surviving family members and friends who were present since they could evaluate the destiny of the person’s eternity from how a person dies.  It is assumed that on one’s dying bed a person would be more honest and thus reveal whether the person dying have been right with God and ready for the eternal state.  It is a means of comfort to observe someone’s parting moment.  Of course the importance of dying in a familiar domestic areas and among familiar people of course was interrupted by the war, in which soldiers died in strange areas among strangers in horrific manners.  We see here people trying to adjust to that in how fellow soldiers wrote about another’s soldiers’ death to surviving loved ones, giving clues to whether or not that person was at peace in anticipation of eternity and doctors and nurses writing about the last moments of a wounded soldier.  The author noted that among these letters there is a strong desire to be honest and yet comforting to the families.


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