Battle Cry of Freedom: Volume 1

  • by James M. McPherson
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis
  • 20 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

James M. McPherson, professor emeritus of U.S. history at Princeton, is one of the foremost scholars of the Civil War. In this informative and meticulously researched masterpiece, he clarifies the differing ways of life and philosophy that led to this shattering conflict.
Abraham Lincoln wondered whether "in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government". Jefferson Davis felt "forced to take up arms" to guarantee states' rights. McPherson merges the words of these men and other political luminaries, as well as housewives and soldiers from both armies, with his own concise analysis of the war, creating a story as compelling as any novel.
Battle Cry of Freedom vividly traces how a new nation was forged when a war both sides were sure would amount to little dragged on for four years and cost more American lives than all other wars combined.
Please note: The individual volumes of the series have not been published in historical order. Battle Cry of Freedom is number VI in The Oxford History of the United States.

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What the Critics Say

"Of the 50,000 books written on the Civil War, [this is] the finest compression of that national paroxysm ever fitted between two covers." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Incredible audio book

I wish all audiobooks were this good. This is a well written book with fantastic narration. I usually zone out a little listening to a book of this length and sometimes find myself getting overwhelmed. I was able to listen to this one endlessly however - primarily because the narrative is crisp and engaging and the narrator is superb. I could just dive in and pick up where I left off and I was instantly swept up in it without ever being overwhelmed. This combination of good writing and good narrative is very rare - so it's refreshing when I discover it. This is one of the few books that I could listen to multiple times.

I have never read Shelby Foote, but I understand what the other reviewers are saying. This is a survey of an entire epoch of U.S. history (roughly 1848 - 1865) It is an overview of the politics, culture, society, and military history of the times - with an emphasis on how these currents interrelate and influence each other (without ever getting boring or too academic) I think that it succeeds admirably.

As an example, the first few hours (yes, hours) are given over to discussing the crisis of the 1850s after the Mexican War. This section in itself could be its own little gem of a book, as it describes in detail the workings of the compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law, "bleeding" Kansas, Dred Scott, U.S. designs to acquire Cuba and other territory in S. America etc etc. It's presented in a compelling way, so by the time you do finally get to Fort Sumter - it has a lot more resonance and punch.

While there is a lot of description given to battles, tactics, troop movements, generals etc, it is not a strict "military history" per se .. So if you are interested in that kind of nuts & bolts detail, Shelby Foote might be more your style.

Still, I think this is an indispensable book for understanding the era, and a sheer pleasure to listen to.
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- Brian

A current account.

Battle Cry is a good book with interesting background on the civil war period. It is reasonably well written and read, and is well recorded. I would recommend, however, that you read Shelby Foote's Civil War: A Narrative (also available from Audible) before reading this book. Foote tells the stories and paints the characters of the civil war like no one else. Reading most other books is like reading chapter headings and footnotes. McPherson's is, perhaps, a more balanced historical account, but Foote's book is essential.
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- J B Tipton

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-01-2007
  • Publisher: Recorded Books