The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans

The Destructive War William Tecumseh Sherman Stonewall Jackson and the Americans From the moment the Civil War began partisans on both sides were calling not just for victory but for extermination And both sides found leaders who would oblige In this vivid and fearfully persuasiv

  • Title: The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans
  • Author: Charles Royster
  • ISBN: 9780679738787
  • Page: 196
  • Format: Paperback
  • From the moment the Civil War began, partisans on both sides were calling not just for victory but for extermination And both sides found leaders who would oblige In this vivid and fearfully persuasive book, Charles Royster looks at William Tecumseh Sherman and Stonewall Jackson, the men who came to embody the apocalyptic passions of North and South, and re creates theirFrom the moment the Civil War began, partisans on both sides were calling not just for victory but for extermination And both sides found leaders who would oblige In this vivid and fearfully persuasive book, Charles Royster looks at William Tecumseh Sherman and Stonewall Jackson, the men who came to embody the apocalyptic passions of North and South, and re creates their characters, their strategies, and the feelings they inspired in their countrymen At once an incisive dual biography, hypnotically engrossing military history, and a cautionary examination of the American penchant for patriotic bloodshed, The Destructive War is a work of enormous power.

    One thought on “The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans”

    1. Americans have an odd relationship with our civil war. To put it bluntly: we’re quite proud of it. I’m not sure that other nations feel the same way about their internecine conflicts. Familiarity begets resentment, and civil wars are often the most brutal sort. They often end with death squads and executions and resentments that can last generations or more. But not us! We Americans are an optimistic lot, generally speaking. We like to be the best in everything. So even our civil war – the [...]

    2. France’s “Late Romantic” agony (or whatever you want to call it) and the North’s victory in the American Civil War are for me the main events of the mid nineteenth century; so, Flaubert and Baudelaire, and Grant and Sherman as memoirists. And no two camps of writers were ever more opposed: on one side the enchantment of decadence, proud melancholy, glorious pessimism, complete alienation from public life, connoisseurship of futility, of ruined civilizations and the holes in whorehouse sh [...]

    3. “The Destructive War” by Charles Royster was only ok, and I hate giving a Bancroft Prize winner such a low grade but it didn’t make the grade for me. The book is a series of nine essays loosely centered on the Civil War tactics and enthusiasm for war of Stonewall Jackson and William Tecumseh Sherman; much is also made of their upbringing. Royster positions these two as the epitome of Destructive War for the Confederates and the Union…how these two represent the effort to exterminate the [...]

    4. One of my grad school advisers puts this book in his "top five" Civil War books. Now that's an endorsement! That said, I struggled with this book. I think that reading it as a series of essays/vignettes rather than as a coherent whole may be a more useful exercise than reading it straight through. I felt frustrated by its disjointed structure but really appreciated Royster's writing style. Royster's text is an excellent example for historians to emulate. He embraces theatricality of the Civil Wa [...]

    5. I think it was written on opium, because merged with some brilliance is a lot of rambling and shambling. The chapter on the "Vicarious War" is particularly representative, for while Royster is onto to something he never gets there. He aptly shows that Oliver Wendell Holmes's views on the war as lacking a moral certainty were rare, but he never explains why Holmes's uncommon vision still fascinates people. The best part is Royster's mini biography of "Stonewall" Jackson, a myth busting affair abo [...]

    6. Some say that the Civil War was a “total war” of devastation. Anytime arguments are made regarding the purposeful killing of civilians, the discussion seems to drift back to the Civil War, specifically to the campaigns of Tecumseh Sherman and Stonewall Jackson, each of which were known for being brutal. In ‘The Destructive War,’ Charles Royster attempts what he calls a “dual biography” of the two men, which ends up being something much more. He ruminates on the nature of the war itse [...]

    7. This book attempts to examine an interesting topic, but in the end it’s basically just a dual biography of Sherman and Jackson, and a loosely written one at that. It’s a good book, but the writing is dull. The author seems to want to make an argument about the nature of the Civil War, but he never really defines it in a coherent way. Basically, he attempts to explain the development of total war and its effects on Americans. Of course, he covers such events as Sherman’s March and the Confe [...]

    8. This well-written book operates on several levels. On one it consists of biographies of Jackson and Sherman. On another it attempts to get at the experience of the American Civil War, everything from its causes and its character to its subsequent interpretative appropriations--and this on all levels: as seen by its proponents and its participants from the lowliest infantryman to its 'leaders', the politicians and generals; from journalists on the scene to editorialists far from the battlefields; [...]

    9. Phenomenal. Using a dazzling array of sources (and no doubt underpaid research assistants), Royster conclusively draws a thick line between the all-out destruction of the Civil War and 20th/21st century warfare. It is impossible, he argues, to have both a limited and modern war. Modern war is a machine that gobbles all; soldier, civilian, nature.

    10. I'm giving this 3, but it is begrudging. I'm not sure how these disparate chapters were supposed to be linked, but, I did enjoy a few of them tremendously. I would argue that the South, for all its flaws, did not practice the scorched earth policy that the North adopted mid-war. Trying to make Jackson the Southern version of Sherman was reaching.

    11. I really enjoyed this book the research done in this book was wonderful there was some parts that would be a little redundant at times I can see why others would not like this book because it starts at the end but I liked the approach I liked how detailed it got about Sherman and Jackson and getting to know them personally

    12. This book, while rather informative, was also a tremendous waste of my time. I'm not certain what the author was trying to convey but spending at least ten pages on the statue of General Sherman in New York wasn't exactly what I was expecting.

    13. Drawn out and rambling with some good insights. Skipped over the chapter on "The Vicarious War" and was past ready to put the book down by the time Sherman finally died. Probably summed up best by another review I saw: "a series of essays." Lacks clear focus.

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