The Dogs of War: 1861

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Date: Aug. 2012
From: Journal of Southern History(Vol. 78, Issue 3)
Publisher: Southern Historical Association
Document Type: Book review
Length: 652 words
Lexile Measure: 1130L

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The Dogs of War: 1861. By Emory M. Thomas. (New York and other cities: Oxford University Press, c. 2011. Pp. [xiv], 113. $14.95, ISBN 978-0-19-517470-0.)

Now well into the Civil War sesquicentennial, readers confront a torrent of new books recounting the kaleidoscope of issues and events that roiled the nation in 1861. This book is not one of those. Rather, as Emory M. Thomas declares from the outset, "This is a 'think book'" (p. ix). He leaves the encyclopedic, kitchen-sink approach to others and, in fewer than a hundred pages of text, forces the reader to view the coming of the war through the clouded vision of both sides.

Thomas writes of a "martial moment," a point at which contending parties abandon negotiation and "commit to physical force" (p. 7). He believes both sides assumed a war would be short and decisive. It would resolve the prolonged agony over slavery and the fight to defend or threaten its existence. He identifies wrongheaded assumptions...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A300443444