By Robert J. Cook, William L. Barney & Elizabeth R. Varon
Johns Hopkins University Press, 129 pages, $19.95
The American Civil War is one of the most written about topics in history. You could fill complete libraries with books about the war. Entire careers, courses, and concepts all stem from this one major event. It is rare to come across a book that attempts to look at this event from a different angle. Many books on the subject take a focused look at the time between Lincoln’s election and his inauguration. Most of the time they follow the same path, focus on the same characters, and present the same ideas. In this work of three collected papers, we get to explore this volatile situation. But the contributors do a good job of examining three different angles without the gift of foresight; that Civil War was a foregone conclusion. That for a period of time it was still up in the air. Even though the book is short, the three contributors do their subjects an honor by placing them into context and even bringing familiar names and faces to the reader from a different direction. That is a side of a person we might not have known before.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter