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BOOK REVIEWS Above the Battle: War Making in America From Appomattox to Versailles . By Thomas C. Leonard. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Pp. 260. $12.95.) Professor Leonard has written an interesting, fast-paced book that attempts to analyze America's views on modern war by examining what "Americans who faced modern war believed and felt . . . put on paper and, more often than not, published." He focusses on the writings of the fighting men themselves, but also includes accounts of political leaders and inventors of weapons. "This is my subject," he writes, and it more or less is, although his emphases vary confusingly. His thesis, based on the exploration of this subject, is that the views that originated during and after the Civil War left America with "neither a usable past nor a realistic future." For the reader with an appetite for Civil War history, the first two chapters, some thirty pages, provide the main course. They set out the two key paradoxes that Professor Leonard sees in the views of Civil War veterans and which he then traces through subsequent wars in the rest of the book. In the author's words, these paradoxes are, first, that the reticence of the Civil War soldiers "made Americans innocent about the destructiveness of modern warfare," and second that the "reconciliation with old enemies" after Appomattox "encouraged ambivalence towards new ones" in the following years. Thus the Civil War established that unusable past and unrealistic future of Professor Leonard's thesis. In his analysis of that war, Leonard examines the published memoirs of the great generals, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, minutes of veterans' reunions and of peace society conventions, and the fiction of postwar literary realists such as Ambrose Bierce, Stephen Crane, and Albion Tourgee. He looks at these materials in the light of several modern analysts of war, including J. Glenn Gray (The Warriors, 1959), Alfred Vagts (A History of Militarism, 1959), John Shy ("The American Military Experience," Journal of Interdisciplinary History [Winter 1971]) and John Keegan (The Face of Battle, 1976). The results are convincing, and the reader finishes the first two chapters ready to explore with Professor Leonard America's wars through 1918. The remaining chapters, however, are less satisfying, largely because they are confusing in their focus and continuity. Chapters 3 and 4 deal 182CIVIL WAR HISTORY with views of the Indian enemy in the West, while the next two turn to weapons and their inventors in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries . The rest of the book retraces those periods, from the SpanishAmerican War through Teddy Roosevelt and World War I through the writings of many different authors. Professor Leonard's conclusion is the basis for the book's title; because Civil War veterans placed themselves "above the battle," Americans in subsequent years were left to find their own way out of the dilemmas of modern war. By the 1920s they had done so. Professor Leonard is a professional historian, schooled at the Universities of Michigan and California, and he currently teaches journalism at the latter. His skills in history and communications combine in a book that is both soundly researched and smoothly written. Perhaps more important , these talents combine to provide one of the best available surveys of the writings on war of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Not only in the text and footnotes, but also in his concluding bibliographical essay the author gives a useful critique of that literature. This adds another valuable dimension to a book that helps to explain the Civil War as a key event in American history. Thomas W. Collier University of Michigan North Carolina Planters and Their Children, 1800-1860. By Jane Turner Censer. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984. Pp. xxv, 191. $20.00.) Jane Turner Censer's study of family life among North Carolina's antebellum planter elite merits careful, critical consideration from scholars. Skillfully combining the techniques of quantitative analysis with the more traditional, narrative approach to history, Censer has produced an extremely well-crafted book. Her purpose in examining the planters' family relations is twofold. Building upon the work of Daniel Blake Smith, Censer is also critical of modernization theory...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 181-182
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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