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America Goes to War

The Civil War and Its Meaning in American Culture

Bruce Catton

Publication Year: 2011

A fascinating study of the first modern war and its effect on American Culture.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. 7

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pp. 11-13

It is perfectly possible that we are spending a little too much time nowadays in talking about the American Civil War. It compels our attention, to be sure. As an historical pageant it still has power to stir our emotions; as a fearful object lesson in the dire things that can happen when our political machinery breaks down, it continues...

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The First Modern War

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pp. 14-27

The Civil War was the first of the world's really modern wars. That is what gives it its terrible significance. For the great fact about modern war, greater even than its frightful destructiveness and its calculated, carefully-applied inhumanity, is that it never goes quite where the men who start it intend that it shall go. Men do...

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The Politics of War

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pp. 28-47

We tend to think of the past, usually, in stereotypes. One particular aspect of a great event will hold our attention until we see the entire event in terms of that one aspect. This is especially true of a great war. The generals and the armies and the fearful, dramatic things they do...

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The Citizen Soldier

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pp. 48-67

The American soldier has been much the same, probably, from the Revolutionary War down to the present day. He reflects the national character, and the national character has not changed a great deal. Weapons, tactics, strategic concepts, equipment—all of these may have...

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Making Hard War

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pp. 68-86

We are people to whom the past is forever speaking. We listen to it because we cannot help ourselves, for the past speaks to us with many voices. Far out of that dark nowhere which is the time before we were borrl, men who were flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone went through fire and storm to break a path to the future. We are part...

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The Era of Suspicion

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pp. 87-105

Any study of the nation at war must sooner or later involve a study of the things our democracy does when people are badly frightened. War itself is a terrifying business; so much so that in the ordinary way of things we are quite unwilling to engage in it. We can face it only when aroused by some...

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The General as President

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pp. 106-121

The presidency of Ulysses S. Grant makes one of the haunting stories of American history. It is a tragic story—tragic both for Grant and for the country—for it shows a great man and a great nation confronting a profound and complex set of problems whose solution demanded qualities which neither the man nor the nation quite...

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The Heritage of Victory

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pp. 122-126

America, in 1860, was a democracy. And while in many ways it was a very good democracy, it was strictly limited. It rested on the assumption that there were superior people and inferior people: white people, that is to say, and black people. Democracy was for the white people. For the black people there was either outright...


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pp. 127-128

E-ISBN-13: 9780819571878
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819560162

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2011