New book: The Civil War: A Concise History, by Louis P. Masur *85 (Oxford University Press)
The author: A professor in American institutions and values at Trinity College in Harford, Conn., Masur has written about Bruce Springsteen’s seminal album, Born to Run (Runaway Dream); events that occurred in the year 1831, marking a turning point for the young American nation (1831: Year of Eclipse); and a photograph taken in 1976 at a Boston rally against forced busing (The Soiling of Old Glory). In his latest book, the historian explores the causes and aftermath of the war whose opening battle, the Battle of Fort Sumter, occurred 150 years ago this April.
The book: This 94-page history seeks to explain, writes Masur, “what happened, how it transpired, and what it all meant.” He explores the war’s origins; the major political, social, and military events of the period; and the war itself: “its aims and methods, its costs and its results, its effects home and abroad,” he writes. Throughout the book, Masur focuses on two themes: How the war shifted from a limited conflict to restore the Union to an all-out war that would fundamentally transform Southern society, and how the conflict became a battle to abolish slavery.
Review: Booklist called The Civil War “an immaculate overview that quickly gets to the heart of the matter, precisely surveying, with keen insight, the slippery slope to war’s outbreak, which was paved with increasingly bitter opposing views on slavery and states’ rights and territorial expansion.”