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Download The Union War Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Union War, by Gary W. Gallagher Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (54 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary W. Gallagher Narrator: Mel Foster Publisher: Tantor Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Even one hundred and fifty years later, we are haunted by the Civil War—by its division, its bloodshed, and perhaps, above all, by its origins. Today many believe that the war was fought over slavery. This answer satisfies our contemporary sense of justice, but as Gary Gallagher shows in this brilliant revisionist history, it is an anachronistic judgment.

In a searing analysis of the Civil War North as revealed in contemporary letters, diaries, and documents, Gallagher demonstrates that what motivated the North to go to war and persist in an increasingly bloody effort was primarily preservation of the Union. Devotion to the Union bonded nineteenth-century Americans in the North and West against a slaveholding aristocracy in the South and a Europe that seemed destined for oligarchy. Northerners believed they were fighting to save the republic, and with it the world’s best hope for democracy.

Once we understand the centrality of union, we can in turn appreciate the force that made northern victory possible: the citizen-soldier. Gallagher reveals how the massive volunteer army of the North fought to confirm American exceptionalism by salvaging the Union. Contemporary concerns have distorted the reality of nineteenth-century Americans, who embraced emancipation primarily to punish secessionists and remove slavery as a future threat to union—goals that emerged in the process of war. As Gallagher recovers why and how the Civil War was fought, we gain a more honest understanding of why and how it was won.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gallagher, one of the nation’s preeminent Civil War scholars and a professor at the University of Virginia, deals in his latest book of the question of why did the North fight? His answer is in the volume’s first sentence: The loyal American citizenry fought a war for Union that also killed slavery. This fast-paced review of the controversies that civil war historians have been arguing about is opinionated, well-informed, provocative and just the thing any American history buff needs to read this spring as our country gears up for the sesquicentennial of the conflict that made the United States begin to live up to the Declaration’s words that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’”

    Karl Rove

  • “Gary Gallagher, more carefully and precisely than anyone else, enables the reader to understand why so many citizen soldiers were willing to peril their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to preserve the United States as one nation, indivisible and, in Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, to give the ‘new nation’ brought forth in 1776 a ‘new birth of freedom’ in 1863.”

    James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

  • “The Union War reaffirms Gary Gallagher’s reputation as one of the most astute and provocative writers on the American Civil War. This work places the Union at the heart of the war but also argues for the central role of armies and soldiers in understanding how the goals of reunion and emancipation were finally realized. With clarity and verve, Gallagher deals with large questions in an unfailingly profound way.”

    George C. Rable, author of God’s Almost Chosen Peoples

  • “Gary Gallagher has written another gem in The Union War. A companion to his brilliant and controversial The Confederate War, this slender volume is sure to generate wide readership and debate.”

    Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Defeat

  • “A rare volume that forces us to reconsider how we think about the Civil War. Examining historic actors in the context of their own time and place, Gallagher reminds of the centrality of ‘Union’ as the motivating force driving the Northern cause, and the significance of those citizen-soldiers who joined the Union Army in determining the results.”

    Matthew Gallman, author of Northerners at War: Reflections on the Civil War Home Front

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sean Chick | 7/6/2013

    " More like an extended essay than a fully formed argument, Gallagher has nevertheless pointed out what many of us forget: the union as the central issue for the northern armies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gene | 9/4/2012

    " Good, quick read about the concept of "Union" as the prime motivation for northerners during the Civil War and how this connected to the military and emancipation. More of a first cut that shows how valuable a topic this is than a deep dive, so I'd be interested to see other work on this topic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ron | 8/13/2012

    " Interesting antidote to most recent looks at the causes of the American Civil War. I picked up the book to read because I had enjoyed the series of essays he edited on the 3 days at Gettysburg. I did not reget my choice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ron | 6/13/2011

    " Interesting antidote to most recent looks at the causes of the American Civil War. I picked up the book to read because I had enjoyed the series of essays he edited on the 3 days at Gettysburg. I did not reget my choice. "

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About the Narrator

Mel Foster is a prolific audiobook narrator, having read dozens of titles throughout his career. He is the recipient of the prestigious Audie Award, as well as the AudioFile Earphones Award. A former advertising agency executive who used to record test tracks for commercials, his narration career was born out of encouragement from his clients who would often say, “why are we hiring someone else? I like this guy.”