by Paul Calore
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Pp. x, 262.
Maps, biblio., index. $25.00 paper. ISBN: 0786473991
The seemingly endless flow of Civil War books has one serious flaw; they all pretty much presume familiarity with the subject, often a deep familiarity, and with Land Campaigns of the Civil War, the author sought to write a book for those lacking such familiarity.
Originally published over a decade ago, Land Campaigns of the Civil War succeeds rather well. Calore, who has written a number of other works on the war, including the companion-volume Naval Campaigns of the Civil War, opens with an introduction that concisely summarizes the causes of the war. Then, in each of the subsequent 20 chapters, he takes a look at a distinct part of the war, from Fort Sumter through Appomattox. Some chapters cover six months or more, such as “The Border States to Ball’s Bluff” (May-December 1861) or “Vicksburg” (December 1862-July 1863), while others deal with much shorter periods, a month or two, such as “Final Battles for Tennessee” (November-December 1864). Naturally chapters often overlap in time, as events unfolded in various theatres at different rates. But Calore interweaves the chapters in such a way that all theatres are covered in a more or less chronological fashion, while touching on political developments as appropriate. This gives the reader a surprisingly good summary overview of the war.
While seasoned Civil War scholars and buffs may readily pick nits, Land Campaigns of the Civil War does what it is intended to do, provide an introduction for the novice, and would be an ideal first book for a younger person.