Edward L. Ayers is the author of the Bancroft Prize-winning In the Presence of Mine Enemies and other works of history honored as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal from President Obama, Ayers is Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond.
Ayers's splendid book... employs both a wide angle and zoom lens, interspersing fascinating individual stories with insightful historical context.... A seasoned historian... [and] a compelling writer. [Ayers] orchestrates many different voices into a steady rhythm, with a tempo that is fast-paced.--Ronald C. White Ayers set out to re-create the lived experience of the Civil War--for Northerners and Southerners, blacks and whites, men and women, soldiers and civilians--without losing sight of the political turmoil and destructive violence that affected all of them. In that he has succeeded brilliantly.--James Oakes Luminous.... An exemplary contribution to the history of the Civil War and its aftermath. Superb.... An original contribution of unimpeachable scholarship. Ayers focuses on the thoughts, fears, and hopes of normal people struggling to stay alive and make sense of the murderous events taking place around them. The result is a superb, readable work of history. Edward Ayers masters a unique combination of detailed, granular, profoundly human social history with an extraordinary skill at narrative and a rare humility. This is the brilliant, long-awaited exclamation mark for the Valley of the Shadow.--David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom