December 01, 2011

Book Review

Battle Tactics of the American Civil WarBattle Tactics of the American Civil War by Paddy Griffith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ok, first of the bat - if you don't know your American Civil War, THIS IS NOT THE BOOK TO START WITH. Instead, find McPherson's 'Battle Cry For Freedom' or Shelby's superb three volume narrative of the conflict.

This little volume deals with something very specific - it's an attempt to answer the ever raging (trust me, in certain circles, this is not an uderstatement) question wheter American Civil War was the last war of Napoleonic times or first of modern wars? All main aspects of armed combat during ACW are examined and evaluated on their own and a final analysis of the conflict is presented in the last part of the book. It is up to each and every reader to agree or disagree with author's conclusions (chances are they will make your blood rush faster, if you don't), but the entire book is very well thought out and author's ideas cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The thing is though that, regardless of author's apparent knowledge, his ideas don't feel 'fleshed out' - the book is simply too short to be able to convincingly tackle the topic. Those who know the topic of discussion will understand Griffith's logic without any problems, but then they will also already be familiar with the argument he's making. Those who are new to the topic of this book, will propably be left with more questions than answers after reading this book. Also, I can't help but feel that Nosworthy's 'Crucible of Courage', which attempts to achieve exactly same thing as Griffith in this volume, is much better spent time if you're genuinly interested in deeper understanding of American Civil War from more "technical" perspective.

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