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On June 19, 1864, the Confederate cruiser Alabama and the USS Kearsarge faced off in the English Channel outside the French port of Cherbourg. About an hour after the Alabama fired the first shot, it began to sink, and its crew was forced to wave the white flag of surrender. Working with personal papers and diaries and contemporary reports, historian William Marvel interweaves the stories of these two celebrated Civil War warships, from their construction to their climactic encounter off Cherbourg. Just as importantly, he illuminates the day-to-day experiences of their crews. From cabin boys to officers, sailors have been one of the most ignored groups of the Civil War. The sailors' lot was one of constant discomfort and monotony, interspersed with riotous frolics ashore and, occasionally, a few minutes of intense excitement and danger. Housed in damp, crowded quarters, their wartime mortality rate did not reach that of their army counterparts, but service-connected diseases shortened their postwar lives disproportionately. Most of the crewmen ended their lives in nameless obscurity, and their story has remained unwritten until now.On June 19, 1864, the Confederate cruiser Alabama and the USS Kearsarge faced off in the English Channel outside the French port of Cherbourg. About an hour after the Alabama fired the first shot, it began to sink, and its crew was forced to wave the white flag of surrender. Working with personal papers and diaries and contemporary reports, historian William Marvel interweaves the stories of these two celebrated Civil War warships, from their construction to their climactic encounter off Cherbourg. Just as importantly, he illuminates the day-to-day experiences of their crews, from the cabin boys to the officers.-->
William Marvel provides a history of Andersonville Prison and conditions within it based on diaries, Union and Confederate government documents, and letters.
The Great Task Remaining is a striking, often poignant portrait of people balancing their own values--rather than ours--to determine whether the horrors attending Mr. Lincoln's war were worth bearing in order to achieve his ultimate goals. As 1863 unfolds, we see the disaster at Chancellorsville, the battle of Gettysburg, and the end of the siege of Vicksburg. Then, astonishingly, the Confederacy springs vigorously back to life after the Union triumphs of the summer, setting the stage for Lincoln's now famous speech on the Pennsylvania battlefield. Without abandoning the underlying sympathy for Lincoln, Marvel makes a convincing argument for the Gettysburg Address as being less of a paean to liberty than an appeal to stay the course in the face of rampant antiwar sentiment. The Great Task Remaining offers a provocative history of a dramatic year--a year that saw victory and defeat, doubt and riot--as well as a compelling story of a people who clung to the promise of a much-longed-for end.
Edwin M. Stanton (1814-1869), one of the nineteenth century's most impressive legal and political minds, wielded enormous influence and power as Lincoln's Secretary of War during most of the Civil War and under Johnson during the early years of Reconstruction. In the first full biography of Stanton in more than fifty years, William Marvel offers a detailed reexamination of Stanton's life, career, and legacy. Marvel argues that while Stanton was a formidable advocate and politician, his character was hardly benign. Climbing from a difficult youth to the pinnacle of power, Stanton used his authority--and the public coffers--to pursue political vendettas, and he exercised sweeping wartime powers with a cavalier disregard for civil liberties. Though Lincoln's ability to harness a cabinet with sharp divisions and strong personalities is widely celebrated, Marvel suggests that Stanton's tenure raises important questions about Lincoln's actual control over the executive branch. This insightful biography also reveals why men like Ulysses S. Grant considered Stanton a coward and a bully, who was unashamed to use political power for partisan enforcement and personal preservation.
A revealing look at Lincoln's actions in 1862--and a nation in the midst of warLincoln's Darkest Year offers a gripping narrative of 1862, a pivotal year in our country's Civil War. Marvel continues the story he began in Mr. Lincoln Goes to War, which focused on Lincoln's first year in office, again relying on recently unearthed primary sources and little-known accounts to paint a picture of this critical year in newfound detail. Lincoln's Darkest Year highlights not just the actions but also the deeper motivations of the major figures, including General Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, George McClellan, Stonewall Jackson, and, most notably, Lincoln himself. As the action darts from the White House to the battlefields and back, Marvel sheds new light on the hardships endured by everyday citizens and the substantial and sustained public opposition to the war.The second in a planned four-part series on the Civil War, and the first major reexamination in over fifty years, Lincoln's Darkest Year stands apart from traditional assumptions and narratives about the early years of the Civil War. Marvel combines fluid prose and scholarship with the skills of an investigative historical detective to unearth the true story of our nation's greatest crisis.
"The Civil War's master historical detective" reveals how Lincoln blundered into war.Stephen Sears has called William Marvel "the Civil War's master historical detective," and in this groundbreaking book Marvel investigates the mystery of how the war began, reconsidering the big question: Was it inevitable? He vividly recreates President Lincoln's first year in office, from his inauguration through the rising crisis of secession and the first several months of the war. Drawing on original sources and examining previously overlooked factors, Marvel leads the reader inexorably to the conclusion that Lincoln not only missed opportunities to avoid war but actually fanned the flames--and often acted unconstitutionally in prosecuting the war once it had begun. The story unfolds with Marvel's keen eye for the telling detail, on the battlefield as well as in the White House.This is revisionist history at its best, as Marvel recreates the true story of our nation's greatest crisis--not sparing anyone, even Abraham Lincoln.
A master Civil War historian re-creates the final year of our nation's greatest crisis. With Tarnished Victory William Marvel concludes his sweeping four-part series--this final volume beginning with the Virginia and Atlanta campaigns in May 1864 and closing with the final surrender of Confederate forces in June 1865. In the course of that year the war grows ever more deadly, the home front is stripped to fill the armies, and the economy is crippled by debt and inflation, while the stubborn survival of the Confederacy seriously undermines support for Lincoln's war. In the end, it seems that Lincoln's early critics, who played such a pivotal role at the start of the series, are proven correct. Victory did require massive bloodshed and complete conquest of the South. It also required decades of occupation to cement the achievements of 1865, and the failure of Lincoln's political heirs to carry through with that occupation squandered the most commendable of those achievements, ultimately making it a tarnished victory. Marvel, called the "Civil War's master historical detective" by Stephen Sears, has unearthed provocative details and rich stories long buried beneath a century of accumulated distortion and misinterpretation to create revisionist history at its best.
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