E plaudits she has received for this book for it is a true tour de force likely to be the definitive source for any readers and historians wanting to better nderstand and analyze the nature and dynamics of the Civil War as it affected Washington Richmond and London I enjoyed the journey and now that it is over I feel somewhat bereft Amanda Foreman has written a sweeping narrative full of action on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean The title is exactly what this book is about Britain s often neglected role in the Civil War here Foreman has such a large cast of characters that she helpfully provides a glossary of them at the beginning of the book I consulted this freuently Although I occasionally found someone dropped into the narrative who was not in this glossary and thus I could not really tell what their role or position was She also fills the book with photos drawings made by a British war correspondent named Frank Vizetelly British political cartoons and battle maps All of these help to keep the mammoth narrative flowing Foreman goes back and forth across the ocean spending time in London with American Minister Charles Francis Adams yes of that Adams family Foreign Secretary Lord Russell and the many commissioners that Confederate President Jefferson Davis vainly kept sending over in the hopes that they could help gain recognition for the South On the American side she follows British Minister Lord Lyons Secretary of State William Seward and many of the British volunteers on both sides of the conflict Seward was focused on early but seemed to fall out of the picture somewhat in the later stages of the book Foreman seems to reach a mixed verdict on him criticizing him for his bluster and threats towards England while acknowledging his considerable political talents at home The British legation in Washington DC was one of the least desirable spots that a member of the British Foreign Office could hope to land Lord Lyons made the best of it and helped keep the peace between the two countries no easy feat As ludicrous as it sounds now there were people then who actually wanted to go declare war on Britain while the Civil War was going on The US still had its eyes on taking Canada away from Britain and over many in the North did not appreciate what they thought was a distinctly pro Southern feeling coming out of London I was surprised at the amount of that pro Southern sympathy Given that Britain had already abolished slavery years before I did not think there would be many people who would naturally gravitate to the Confederacy s side But there were Many people even came and fought for the Confederacy this actually takes p a large part of the book In Britain the prevailing sentiment was that all of America treated blacks poorly I would say this was accurate then and sadly still all too accurate today so the North did not have a monopoly on morals Although you still have to wonder how anyone could openly or even covertly support a cause that was dedicated to preserving slavery Britain also depended on the South for most of its cotton and did not want its supply cut off Nor did many Britons like America in general always wondering when America would make another attempt to wrest Canada away from them Officially the government was neutral Prime Minister Palmerston Russell and many others wanted to steer clear of picking sides But this allowed the South to build and euip warships and other vessels to attempt to run the blockade put p by the Federals around Southern ports This became a big bone of contention as the war progressed with the British government often than not sticking their collective heads in the sand like an ostrich so as to claim ignorance Foreman juxtaposes all of this with battle scenes and the recollections of the many Britons who came to fight I noticed that we got much of this on the Confederate side rather than the Union side I am not sure ite why that is Was it simply that archival material was available concerning people who had fought for the South than the North Or were their stories interesting to Foreman Or was she interested in focusing on the Southern part of the conflict The Northern part was not ignored I do not wish to imply that But there is a definite imbalance
And I Am Not Sure I am not sure If you are particularly interested in reading about Abraham Lincoln this is not the book for you He is for the most part on the sidelines of this narrative as is his Cabinet outside of Seward That is not bad nor good just noteworthy in that Lincoln is central to so many Civil War works I was disappointed that een Victoria was barely mentioned What did she think of the war Did she care who won
Did She Pressure Palmerston To Remain Neutral This Is Not she pressure Palmerston to remain neutral This is not It is refreshing to read something about the Civil War that is not focused mainly on the military parts of the war just going from battle to battle Overall this is a very good if lengthy book that reads well and provides a detailed epilogue at the end that allows the reader to find out what happened to many of the vast number of characters that were interwoven throughout the story Grade A One of the best researched books about the Civil War in recent years The author did mention the pillaging of the Union soldier often then what the Confederates did.
Onal letters diaries and journals Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet letters diaries and journals Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet view of the war on the front lines in the prison camps and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy Through the eyes of these brave volunteers we see the details of the struggle for life and the great and powerful forces that threatened to demolish a nationIn the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington on muddy fields and aboard packed ships Foreman reveals the decisions made the beliefs held and contested and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ltimately led to the reunification of America A World on Fire is a complex and groundbreaking work that will surely cement Amanda Foreman’s position as one of the most influential historians of our ti. The subject is most interesting emphasizing the role of diplomacy even world diplomacy in deciding what has been looked at as primarily an American military event The way in which the author recaps the major momentum movement of the American Civil War is also helpful But she chooses such a massive subject that she could se some leavening to make her work appetizingMore individual human illustrations would have been helpful in How anyone can rate this book one star without a comment is totally beyond my comprehension I can honestly say that it is one of the best non fiction reads of this year I have the UK edition and hopefully will be next year when it comes out in the US The author ties together national relations between the US and the UK during the Civil War mixes in mini bios of all of the major characters both political and military and discusses many of the major battles She does this effortlessly and despite her huge cast of characters she juggles everything flawlesslyThis book is a true winner in every sense of the word Follow Knights of the Hill Country up Just completed the book all 988 pages of it A Herculean effort to get through but well worth the effort superb narrative history and without a doubt one of the best books I ve ever read on the Civil War At eight hundred pages and counting Foreman s narrative threatens to be a forbidding slogp a mountain of dispiriting data Mind numbing statistics like Twenty five thousand men were killed wounded or missing on a single day at Antietam loom hazily but large in our collective memory But it isn t In fact Foreman s way with the data is very reader friendlyA World on Fire proceeds mainly through biographical material Family letters personal journals and memoirs are given as much weight as diplomatic correspondences political wrangling and military maneuvers We get to know the A House Built out of Stone usual suspects pivotal diplomatic actors such as William Seward US Secretary of State Lord Lyons Minister of the British legation in Washington and Charles F Adams Minister at the US legation in London at work at home and on holiday Their domestic trials petty personal grievances and the alliances they make or fail to secure over the dinner table flesh out the men behind epoch making decisions Thankfully we also meet people whose lives in official histories are typically buried in statistics the numbers dead wounded or on their feet at the end of the day Among these are British subjects whose personal war stories complement the diplomatic wars being waged in the offices of state as well as the drawing rooms of the rich andor powerful on both sides of the Atlantic Some were colorful career soldiers of fortune for whom the battlefield was their drug of choice Others had volunteered for one side or the other out of often misplaced idealism And there were men like immigrant Edward Sewell formerly of Ipswich who cursed their luck to wakep one day and find themselves in the army Sewell dozed
off riding the train to work in New York then woke p and found myself on board a steam packetI found riding the train to work in New York then woke p and found myself on board a steam packetI found I was then in niform as a soldier and had been robbed of my money jewels and clothes He d been crimped an illegal Civil War version of impressmentOn the journalism front we follow Frank Vizetelly the most famous war illustrator of the day
drawings adorn this and Francis Lawley a debt ridden gambler turned freelance writer Both worked for the Times and both were seduced by the the Confederate elite whom they trailed from battlefield to burned city and back Their reports idealized the Southern cause and strained the truth to the point of misinforming the British public about the South s aims and military achievements And the opinion of the British public mattered a great deal The Southern cotton embargo plunged 15 million Lancastrians into poverty and created a humanitarian crisis in Britain The War between the States was never just that and Forman s focus emphasizes its global reachBoth sides sought legitimacy and aid from Britain and France whose governments maintained a rigorous neutrality even while their economies suffered from trade embargoes Confederate and Federal agents lobbied politicians ran propaganda campaigns and in the case of the Confederates sought to acuire a navy out of Britain s shipyards Ultimately the Confederate agents were mystified by their failure to make allies of Britain s nemployed mill workers The Southern elite couldn t seem to get their minds around one simple fact that Confederate General Cleburne acknowledged far too late for remedy England has paid hundreds of millions to emancipate her West India slaves and break p the slave trade Could she now consistently spend her treasure to reinstate slavery in this country Kudos to Amanda Foreman and her editors for maintaining great control over mountain of disparate sources and turning it into a great read This is a big and weighty book and is a thoroughly interesting approach that focusses on the relationship between Great Britain and the two combatants If you re looking for a book that deals with the battles strategy and tactics in great detail this is not the right volume for you although these are covered to some extent as the narrative progresses with some excellent accounts of predominently British subjects fighting on either si. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER10 BEST BOOKS • THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • 2011 NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Chicago Tribune • The Economist • Nancy Pearl NPR • Bloombergcom • Library Journal • Publishers WeeklyAcclaimed historian Amanda Foreman follows the phenomenal success of her New York Times bestseller Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire with her long awaited second work of nonfiction the fascinating story of the American Civil War and the major role played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggleEven before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable Britain was dependent on the South for cotton and in turn the Confederacy relied almost.Whose Drawings Adorn This