Published in 1993 by Chronicle Books
Designed to be a "coffee table book" rather than a thorough re-telling of the war, this history of the American Civil War is quite enjoyable. The strength of the book is immediately obvious - the gorgeous, large photographs of soldiers, sailors, spies and other participants in the events of the Civil War.
I find that as I get older I catch myself looking at the faces of these people and wondering what life was like for them. Some of them look stiff and fake, but some, including a lot in this collection, imbue a sense of vitality, a sense that these were living, breathing people. Sometimes it is a smirk, or perhaps a look of unease.
I simply love a picture that is used in this book of the 4th U.S. Colored Troops on p. 121. This is a close-up of the picture from the book. These men all have a look of confidence, determination and even distrust that speaks to us even more than 150 years later and exemplifies what a well-chosen picture can tell the reader that even a well-written text cannot.
|4th U.S. Colored Troops stationed at Fort Lincoln in|
"McClellan had won a costly, if strategically vital victory, but he now seemed reluctant even to give chase to Lee. A much-frustrated Abraham Lincoln sacked his general and freed the slaves."
While all of that is true, it completely skips over the slavery debate within Lincoln's cabinet and the strategy involved - especially the need to pacify foreign governments that were contemplating intervening on behalf of the Confederacy.
Clearly, if this were the reader's only exposure to Civil War history, this book would come up short. But, if you are a student of the Civil War, this book offers something different with these portraits and photographs of camp life. Many books include pictures, including many of the pictures in this book, but few offer them in such a large format which can make all of the difference.
Despite its flaws, I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: My Brother's Face.