The War for a Nation provides a brief introduction to the American Civil War from the perspective of military personnel and civilians who participated in the conflict. Susan-Mary Grant brings the war, its many battles, and those who fought them – male and female, black and white – to the center of a riveting narrative that is accessible to general readers and students of American history. The War for a Nation explains, in a clear narrative structure, the war's origins, its battles, the expansion of the Union, the struggle for emancipation, and the following saga of Reconstruction. By drawing its examples from primary source documents, first-hand accounts, and scholarly research, The War for a Nation introduces readers to the human-interest aspects as well as the historiographical debates surrounding what was the most destructive war ever fought on American soil.
"With admirable style, Susan-Mary Grant has given us the best brief history of the American Civil War. She combines a balanced and wide-ranging perspective with revealing first-hand testimony. The result is a narrative that is useful and engaging on every facet of this complex drama."
— Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 and The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction
"In this engaging and fast-paced study of the crux of American history, Susan-Mary Grant interweaves concise narrative and assured analysis to produce a work which properly puts the battle-field to the fore, but which never loses sight of the larger context and the war's significance in national construction. It is an admirable achievement."
—Richard Carwardine, author of Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power
"Susan-Mary Grant's impressive War for a Nation clears a fresh path through the debris—both material and intellectual—of America's most destructive conflict."
—Charles Joyner, author of Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community
Introduction 1. Portents 2. Divisions 3. The Road to Perdition 4. All Quiet Along the Potomac 5. Battle Cry of Freedom 6. Into the West 7. The People Embodied 8. Lee's Miserables Conclusion: Death of a President, Birth of a Nation