Amanda Foreman follows the phenomenal success of her New York Times bestseller
Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire with her long-awaited second work of
nonfiction: the fascinating story of the American Civil War and the major role
played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle.
Even before the
first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement
in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for
cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for
guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the
two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For four years
the complex web of relationships between the countries led to defeats and
victories both minute and history-making. In A World on Fire, Amanda
Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she
introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over
the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative.
Between 1861 and
1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of
the Civil War. From the first cannon blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee’s surrender
at Appomattox, they served as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses,
blockade runners and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals,
Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet intimate
view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great
cities of both the Union and the Confederacy. Through the eyes of these brave
volunteers we see the details of the struggle for life and the great and
powerful forces that threatened to demolish a nation.
In the drawing
rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on muddy fields and aboard
packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions made, the beliefs held and
contested, and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ultimately led to the
reunification of America. A World on Fire is a complex and
groundbreaking work that will surely cement Amanda Foreman’s position as one of
the most influential historians of our time.
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