Twelve articles have been collected in this book of essays on various aspects of the American Civil War. Struggle for a Vast Future honors the Osprey tradition of providing maps and colorful, eye-catching illustrations, some by Civil War illustrator Don Troiani who is known for the bright colors he employs (other illustrations are from the Library of Congress and other historical societies).
There are articles on what caused the war; politics before, during and after the war; the leadership on the battlefield; lives of the ordinary soldier; the life of volunteer soldiers; the naval aspect of the war; the war in the western theatre or the trans-Mississippi; spies, covert actions and military intelligence; what was life like on the home front; freedom for the slaves; how Europe reacted to the war; the legacy of the war.
The articles were written by twelve mostly American scholars: Dr. Aaron Sheehan-Dean (the editor), Dr. William A. Blair, Richard Carwardine, Robert K. Krick, Dr. Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Mark Grimsley, Dr. Craig L. Symonds, Dr. Jeffrey S. Prushankin, Dr. William B. Feis, Victoria E. Bynum, Dr. Michael Vorenberg, and Dr. Hugh Dubrulle; James M. McPherson provides the foreword. Several of the authors are history professors while others are involved with actual battlefield sites, like Robert K. Krick. All have written books or articles on the Civil War, and their various styles imbue the readable, to-the-point articles collected here.
Some quotes from primary sources are given, and endnotes are provided. A bibliography divided according to the articles is also included, along with an index. Another useful feature of this book is a timeline. There are also sidebars with historical notes relating to the article’s subject; for instance, the article on what caused the war there is enhanced by a sidebar on the Dred Scott decision. This book is recommended as a good overview of the study of the Civil War at a good price.
Dr. Aaron Sheehan-Dean is a history professor at the University of North Florida. He is the editor of the forthcoming in December 2006 of The View from the Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers and the author of the forthcoming book Creating Confederates: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia. James M. McPherson is the author of Battle Cry of Freedom (1988), which won the Pulitzer Prize.