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What started the American Civil War, suggest a good book

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by ithaca_deerslayer, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. I've been reading a few books on American history. Just because.

    Anyway, what book would you suggest for understanding why the South seceded? And, related to that, why the North fought against the secession.

    I'm currently reading World on Fire
    [ame=""]A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War: Amanda Foreman: 9780375756962: Books@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    And recently just read Manifest Destinies
    [ame=""]Manifest Destinies: America's Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War: Steven E. Woodworth: 9780307265241: Books@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    Before that, had read Revolutionary Summer
    [ame=""]Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence (Vintage): Joseph J. Ellis: 9780307946379: Books@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]

    As you go backward in time, to the formation of the US, you can see slavery coming as a problem to be resolved in the United States. Seems as though it was put off until things finally came to a head and South Carolina seceded. But why did she secede, and why the Northern reaction to it?

    I'm asking for a good book suggestion here, in part, because I know a lot of my GT friends are Southerners (and I'm a Northerner), so I want a balanced view, to the extent possible.

    But I also want an enjoyable read :)
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  2. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    France offered a better price for the South's cotton. the south told the northern factories no thanks to their low ball offer. the northern factories got the government to prevent the sale by blockading Charleston harbor. south Carolina's militia told the northern ships to move, they declined and got fired upon.

  3. ChiefWPD


    Dec 25, 2004
    I don't hold myself out to be an historian. None the less, I'm currently working on a book about our southern border and have had to do some research into the history of how it came into existence. It's pretty clear that there was a strong desire on the part of many living in our southern states for there to be a national separation, one part "free" and one part slave well before the first shot was fired during the "War of Northern Aggression."

    The Mexican/American war on through to the Gadsden Purchase (finalized 1855) seemed to be driven by that underlying goal. Gadsden, already the president of a railroad company in 1839, was among those wanting a clear route for a southern tier RR from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts.

    Understanding our history is not as simple as watching a movie showing John Wayne fighting at the Alamo.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  4. ranger1968


    Mar 23, 2009
    I will give you a clue:

    It wasn't fought over slavery any more than the Revolutionary War was fought over tea taxes .....
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  5. HarlDane


    Jul 26, 2005
    San Joaquin Valley
    The Southerners who drafted the various articles of secession disagree. I'm willing to take their word for it.
  6. sourdough44


    Jul 23, 2007
    Have you been to Gettysburg yet? You're not far away.

    One of the biggies on the Civil War is 'The Killer Angles', the author has a few others that rate up there too.

    For casual viewing I'd also rent the movie 'Gettysburg', with Jeff Daniels.

    After doing those 2, go to Gettysburg, PA.
  7. World on Fire goes into the cotton aspect a lot. Evidently Britain was close to going to war against the North, during the Civil War. But at the same time did not want to support pro-slavery South. Interesting stuff.
  8. I hear that a lot (on GT), and wouldn't mind reading a good book about it.
  9. ranger1968


    Mar 23, 2009

    Oh to be sure, it was a factor, along with many, many other things (and make no mistake, the concept of owning other human beings as property is an abomination) but it's not the single , pat answer to the question that kids are/were taught in school;

    "Why did the Civil War happen? Why, because of slavery, of course".....

    It was quite a bit more complex than that.
  10. I have been to Gettysburg. Great place to see.

    Also have seen "Gettysburg", with Jeff Daniels. Great movie. If you like his stuff, I also suggest "The Crossing" about Washington defeating the Hessians in the American Revolution.

    I have not read Shaara's "Killer Angles", but I did read a couple of his other books:
    "God and Generals"
    "A Blaze of Glory"

    They are very good historical novels.
  11. Jimmy10mm


    May 3, 2014
    Greenacres, FL
    Been 25 years ago or more, but I read Shelby Foote's trilogy, The Civil War, and it was great but voluminous. Within days after Lincoln won the election South Carolina seceded IIRC, and Lincoln sent telegrams to 'loyal' states calling up their militias. Within weeks more states seceded. Not an auspicious start to a presidency.
  12. That is the very type of book I'm looking to read, by a good author, well written, well respected, who can make a good logical presentation of the events leading up the start of hostilities, explaining the causes, all in one book :)
  13. G33

    G33 Frisky! Millennium Member CLM

    May 29, 1999
    With G29
    I would suggest history books with copyright dates before 1950 and back to 1890.
    Before 1890, you will get the democrat carpet bag version.
    After 1950, you have the progressive spin.
  14. hogfish

    hogfish Señor Member

    Aug 4, 2005
    You would think that there would be plenty of original documents giving 1st hand accounts as to the causes of the Civil War. A book compiling these documents would be worth reading (unless one didn't agree with THEIR accounts).
  15. Looks like a good suggestion. Thanks!
    [ame=""]Civil War Volumes 1-3 Box Set: Shelby Foote: 9780394749136: Books@@AMEPARAM@@[/ame]
  16. Yes, but what is the title of that book :)
  17. hogfish

    hogfish Señor Member

    Aug 4, 2005
    THAT is the question. :wavey:
  18. ranger1968


    Mar 23, 2009
    I think it's going to be tough to find it in a single book.....there are a few different perspectives as to what happened, and all of the viewpoints have to be taken into account.....
  19. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    the emancipation proclamation (the schpeil about freeing slaves) only applied to the southern states (read it) and was written 2 years after the civil war started. in fact, after the civil war was over, two northern states were the last to abolish slavery, NJ and Delaware.
  20. ranger1968


    Mar 23, 2009
    I think if you asked someone form either side what the war was really about, the most direct answer would be control.