Elizabeth R. Varon is Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia. She is the author of numerous award-winning books, including Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (OUP, 2003), Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (OUP, 2013).
Elizabeth Varon has served up a fresh and convincing interpretation of Northern policy and goals in the Civil War. She portrays how an initial purpose to deliver the presumed legions of white Unionists in the South from suppression by Confederate domination evolved into a crusade to liberate whites and blacks alike from the iron grip of the slave power and slavery. This book offers a new perspective on the searing conflict of 1861-1865 that continues to provoke controversy today. - James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era Drawing on her mastery of the Civil War era, Elizabeth Varon delivers a sweeping and bold synthesis that seamlessly blends the military, political, cultural, racial, and religious currents of the tragic conflict. Her deft use of 'deliverance' as a motif for understanding the wartime motivations of both nations provides an astute perspective on this endlessly fascinating period in United States history. -- Joan Waugh, co-author of The American War: A History of the Civil War Era Armies of Deliverance offers a fresh, innovative, and quite readable account of the American Civil War. By recasting the conflict as a 'war of liberation, ' Varon presents new insights along with revealing evidence (especially from more moderate voices) that make this an important book for historians as well as a most enlightening one for general readers. Students and veteran scholars alike will learn a great deal from this fine book. -- George C. Rable, author of Damn Yankees! Demonization and Defiance in the Confederate South In this sweeping, comprehensive, and informed analysis of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Varon suggests new ways of interpreting old issues and questions. Northerners, she tells us, came to see the war in almost biblical terms; delivering white Southerners from an ill-fated course of secession and slaves from bondage. In white Southerners' rejection of these lofty Northern objectives is to be found the failure of Reconstruction. -- Richard Blackett, author of The Captive's Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and the Politics of Slavery Witnessing intense debates over the meaning of Confederate monuments, many twenty-first-century Americans assume that Lost Cause southerners have long had the upper hand in the battle over Civil War memory. In her well-crafted and perceptive narrative, Elizabeth Varon offers a necessary corrective to that view. It was the rhetoric of deliverance, she contends, that not only won the hearts and minds of Union soldiers and shaped Lincoln's policies, but also, in the end, made military victory possible. -- Nancy Isenberg, author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America A fresh interpretation of the Civil War that illuminates why Americans took up arms against each other. An accessible work of scholarship that will be of great interest to students of Civil War history. - Kirkus Reviews Elizabeth R. Varon's highly original and sweeping new study, Armies of Deliverance, [is] one of the few histories of the war since James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom (1988) that deserve to be ranked as essential reading. Had Ms. Varon devoted a smaller book to her case, she would undoubtedly have produced a valuable academic resource. But she has bravely aimed for something bigger, not only inviting us to reconsider the motivation but providing a thorough, highly readable history of the war itself. -- The Wall Street Journal