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Turning Points of the American Civil War

Turning Points of the American Civil War

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Edited by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White, with a foreword by Thomas A. Desjardin


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
272 pages, 6 x 9, 31 illustrations

Engaging the Civil War


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About the Book

Contributors to this collection, public historians with experience at Civil War battle sites, examine key shifts in the Civil War and the context surrounding them to show that many chains of events caused the course of the war to change: the Federal defeats at First Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff, the wounding of Joseph Johnston at Seven Pines and the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federal victory at Vicksburg, Grant’s decision to move on to Richmond rather than retreat from the Wilderness, the naming of John B. Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee, and the 1864 presidential election. In their conclusion, the editors suggest that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln might have been the war’s final turning point. 


Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White are co-founders of Emerging Civil War.
Mackowski, a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University, is the editor in chief of Emerging Civil War, editor of the Engaging the Civil War series, and historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge. He has written or cowritten more than a dozen books on the Civil War.
White, the chief historian of Emerging Civil War, is the education manager at the Civil War Trust. He has cowritten several books with Chris Mackowski, including That Furious Struggle: Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy, May 1–5, 1863.


"All of the essays included in this slim volume are excellent, both readable and meticulously researched. Turning Points of the American Civil War is a must read for all Civil War buffs."—Paul D. Travis, The Journal of Southern History.

"Turning Points of the American Civil War is interesting, informative, and often thought-provoking."—Joseph A. Rose, author of Grant Under Fire, for the New York Military Affairs Symposium Review

"In the end it is important for authors and readers alike to remember that, no matter how heavily commemorated in stone and bronze, no single individual or event is solely responsible for the outcome of a struggle that was years in the making and years further in its conclusion. In this fascinating volume, the editors and authors succeed in expressing that message."—Robert Patrick Bender, Arkansas Review

“Rejecting the notion that the war hinged on a single pivot point or plot line, the editors have assembled nine vivid essays treating some of the war’s most consequential moments—from First Bull Run to the election of 1864. Skillfully tracking between the eastern and western theater and campaigns both military and political, the contributors remind that small events can cast large shadows. Even those well acquainted with the Civil War will rethink not only the relationships between individual battles but also the very cadence of our nation’s defining conflict.”—Brian Matthew Jordan, author, Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, Pulitzer Prize finalist

“Using their hands-on experiences to debate the existence of turning point or points in the Civil War, the editors and chapter authors present a fresh and pointed perspective that will cause readers to rethink what too often they are mistakenly sure are the undeniable facts about the pendulum of war.”—John F. Marszalek, executive director, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library
“This tour de force of scholarship provides readers with a stimulating and engaging examination of factors often overlooked in standard works on the war.”—Ted Alexander, author, Antietam: The Bloodiest Day

"Edited by the co-founders of Emerging Civil War, a public history-oriented platform for sharing original scholarship about the American Civil War, Turning Points of the American Civil War is studiously researched, yet accessible to readers of all backgrounds. An index rounds out this excellent contribution to public and college library Civil War collections."--James A. Cox, editor-in-chief, Midwest Book Review

"Editors Chris Mackowski and Kristopher White have . . . assembled a team of public historians with experience at Civil War battle sites to examine a number of pivotal events during the war, all of which can reasonably claim to have been a "turning point" during the course of conflict. Together, these essays enrich the historiography of what is certainly a turning point--perhaps the turning point--in the evolution of the United States as a modern nation."--Gordon Berg, Emerging Civil War Newsletter 
"Mackowski and White do not set out to dispel Gettysburg's mystique, and they acknowledge its importance in both the war and in history books, but what they are offering is an idea of a war of such magnitude and scope turns out at many points and not just in the hills and fields outside a sleepy Pennsylvania town..."--Drew Gallagher, freelance for Fredericksburg Freelance-Star

"This book provides a core set of turning points for discussion, including perhaps some that readers have not previously considered. . . . This book is provocative and is recommended reading for anyone with interest in the Civil War."--Lawrence K. Peterson, Civil War News 

“In this compendium, a group of Civil War scholars and enthusiasts render their opinions on why certain events had significant impact on the progress of the war. . . .The essays are uniformly good but a few stand out, either because of the topic or of the engaging presentation by the author. . . .This collection includes many important issues and some innovative points and will make fruitful reading for anyone interested in Civil War history.”—The Journal of America’s Military Past

“Turning points can be tricky things. In sharing public historians' thoughts about various turning points, Mackowski and White invite the rest of us to ponder the concept for ourselves. Amidst these uncertainties is a given: this volume will force at least some readers to rethink their preconceptions.”—Civil War Book Review