James M. McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He is the author of many works of history, including Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize.
McPherson, the dean of U.S. Civil War historians, offers readers an insightful overview of some of the most important questions in contemporary Civil War scholarship. McPherson's mastery of the Civil War literature and the field's historiographic debates allows him to present nuanced answers to those questions and many others, and his gift for narrative clarifies even the most obscure scholarly disputes. The literature on the Civil War is one of the greatest accomplishments of the American historical profession, and this collection of lucid essays is a distinguished addition to the field. - Foreign Affairs The finest single volume on the war and its background. * The Washington Post Book World * The best one-volume treatment of [the Civil War era] I have ever come across. It may actually be the best ever published.... I was swept away, feeling as if I had never heard the saga before.... Omitting nothing important, whether military, political, or economic, he yet manages to make everything he touches drive the narrative forward. This is historical writing of the highest order. * Hugh Brogan, The New York Times Book Review * Previous praise for Battle Cry of Freedom: Deftly coordinated, gracefully composed, charitably argued and suspensefully paid out, McPherson's book is just the compass of the tumultuous middle years of the 19th century it was intended to be, and as narrative history it is surpassing. Bright with details and fresh quotations, solid with carefully-arrived-at conclusions, it must surely be, of the 50,000 books written on the Civil War, the finest compression of that national paroxysm ever fitted between two covers. * Los Angeles Times Book Review * Brisk and engrossing The War That Forged a Nation [McPherson] distills a lifetime of scrupulous scholarship into 12 essays * two new, the others extensively revised from previously published versions. Yet the book has none of the haphazard feel of an anthology, and readers will finish it with the sense that they have received a succinct history of the whole struggle, as well as numerous fresh and occasionally controversial observations. * McPherson's mastery of the Civil War literature and the field's historiographic debates allows him to present nuanced answers to those questions and many others, and his gift for narrative clarifies even the most obscure scholarly disputes. -Foreign Affairs Those readers unfamiliar with the history of the conflict can expect to learn much of the war's military, diplomatic, political, and social history, even as McPherson's sharp prose and narrative style keep the writing brisk. * Cameron Givens, Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective *