Wednesday, February 22, 2012

History of the Civil War, 1861-1865 by James Ford Rhodes

Recently, I read the pulitzer prize winning history of the American Civil war written by James Ford Rhodes. Amazon Link to the book

How I got to reading the book is an interensting story. I had long ago started reading Erika Janik's "A short history of Wisconsin", and some references about the civil war had made me want to learn more about it. And my endorsing Abraham Lincoln for a role model also helped etch that need deeper into my being.

So a long time ago, I bought a kindle edition of Rhodes' book.

Kindle has got everything right about it, except the kindle book format. I generally use my kindle to read books off of project gutenberg, which I first print as pdf files. The kindle format however is pretty non-conducive to reading, and so Rhodes' book lay there for a long long time.

Then my then girlfriend and I drove down to North Carolina to visit my cousin over the new year. While there, we visited the Bennett farm historical site. And there, I saw Rhodes' book on sale on their shelves, and not knowing I already owned the kindle edition, I purchased it.

Later going back to my cousin's place, my uncle picked it up and started reading it and told me it was pretty good. And seeing my uncles enthusiasm about the book, I decided to leave that copy with him, and buy another off of Amazon; yet not realizing that I had the book on my kindle.

Finally, the new copy shipped to me, and I read it. Only after reading it cover to cover did I realise I had a kindle edition all the while with me.

Anyhow, the book was a really awesome read. Rhodes has a narrative style of history that makes reading the book like reading a story book. And once you start reading, you can't put it down; Rhodes' manages to capture you, and bind you in his spell all along.

It is also astounding how much information the book packs into the small volume of five hundred something pages. The only small peeve I had about the book was that it didn't cover anything much about Wisconsin. Apparently, the old north-west didn't have enough action going on there as compared with the frontier, that Rhodes chose to ignore it for the most part. Yet, on the whole, it has left me much wiser about American history today !


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