Review by Choice Review
McPherson's atlas offers 205 color maps, similar in format to those of the US War Department's "The War of the Rebellion" series, detailing battles and campaigns from all theaters of the war. A major highlight is the inclusion of many inset maps detailing minor skirmishes that were concurrent with larger battles and campaigns. Time lines keyed to the maps guide readers through a battle's progress. Essays introduce the five chapters, each of which coincides with a year of the war. Short summaries accompany the campaign maps, and photographs and illustrations appear on almost every page. Quotes from participants are interspersed throughout. Two recent works that fall short of this one are Craig Symonds' A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War (3rd ed., 1993) and Richard O'Shea's American Heritage Battle Maps of the Civil War (1992). The major advantage of McPherson's work over Symonds' or O'Shea's is the inclusion of many minor battles they neglect. One mistake occurs in the map on page 50; Fort Henry is situated on the Paducah to Paris road rather than on the east bank of the Tennessee River, 15 miles away. Academic and general readers. M. A. Cavanaugh; Washington University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Pulitzer Prize-winning author McPherson is Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton. In addition to the prizewinning Battle Cry of Freedom, his books include Struggle for Equality and Marching toward Freedom. The contributors to The Atlas of the Civil War are academics and military-park historians. The 200 maps in this specialized atlas show troop movements (first and second positions, retreats), physical features, and the location of towns and counties. Clearly defined symbols indicate army hierarchies (corps, division, brigade), topographic features, and battle lines (encampments, siege lines, batteries). Thus, the reader gets a "comprehensive overview of the warfare which was destined to affect Americans for centuries." Arranged around the maps as sidebars and inserts are hundreds of photographs, eyewitness accounts, letters, and news clippings. The atlas is divided into five sections, each one highlighting a war year from 1861 to 1865. A typical example, the 1864 "Total War," begins with a full-page photograph of General Grant accompanied by a 1,200-word article that provides a context for the two dozen maps that follow. The writing is colorful and engaging. Also presented here is a double-page color lithograph of the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. Since the pages measure 9 by 12 inches, the maps are fairly large. Line clarity, color, and detailing are excellent. The photos could almost stand alone as a photographic essay of the war. They strengthen the impact of the maps tremendously. For example, accompanying the map of the Spotsylvania Campaign is a photo of a dead Confederate soldier, captioned, "So devastating had been the Union fire that many of the Confederate dead lay in orderly rows, the alignment of their ranks perfectly preserved." The volume concludes with a brief bibliography and indexes of personal names and place-names. The four-volume Encyclopedia of the Confederacy [RBB F 1 94] contains 67 maps, most of them on military matters. But with a reasonable price of $40, The Atlas of the Civil War is an excellent buy and will be valued by public and academic libraries serving serious Civil War researchers. (Reviewed ^May 01, 1995^)
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.