Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

I always have admired William Tecumseh Sherman’s Memoirs. Second only to his friend U. S. Grant among Union military heroes, Sherman lacked an effective filter between his brain and either his mouth or his pen—which renders him both fascinating...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

War destroys. Destruction is its business. “War” descends from Old High German and means confusion or strife; one of its Old English cousins is “worst.” War is the worst, our worst, the worst confusion and strife humans know and have known for as long as...

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1. When Lincoln Met Emerson, and the Two Addresses

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pp. 9-46

In the history of the United States the convergence of Civil War writing with verbal artistry remains particularly notable in the case of Abraham Lincoln. In part this distinction has to do with the fact that Lincoln’s written English—with its distinct blendings of the elegantly...

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2. Walt Whitman’s Real Wars

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pp. 47-68

One of Lincoln’s fervent admirers was Walt Whitman, who on the fourteenth anniversary of the president’s assassination delivered a lecture he repeated nineteen times between 1879 and 1890.1 Four years before his inaugural Lincoln lecture, Whitman had published...

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3. Sherman the Writer

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pp. 69-114

To open Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, “Written by Himself,” as the cover of the 1875 first edition announced, is to take a seat in a verbal theater. This formulation has special relevance in the case of Sherman, whose passion for theater began...

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4. Ambrose Bierce, Chickamauga, and Ways to Write History

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pp. 115-146

Writing on August 17, 1892, to Blanche Partington, one of his many disciples, from St. Helena, California, the Napa Valley town where he sought relief from chronic asthma and where one can stay where he did, now the Ambrose Bierce House Bed and...

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5. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Repeats Appomattox

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pp. 147-164

In his Personal Memoirs (1885–86), Ulysses S. Grant, commenting on what he described as “the story of the famous apple tree” at Appomattox, offered by way of introduction this typically lean, efficient sentence: “Wars produce many stories of fiction, some...

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Last Words

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pp. 165-180

The abundant diversity of Civil War narratives soundly refutes the easy sophism “victors write the histories.” This cliché has harsh relevance to totalitarian governments founded on propaganda and censorship, imagined most chillingly in George Orwell’s...

Notes

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pp. 181-202

Index

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pp. 203-213