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Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War


Civil War’s Foremost Storyteller James Robertson Offers New Perspective on Conflict

WASHINGTON — From the secession of the South to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Civil War is one of the most familiar periods of American history. But what about the personal experiences of the soldiers and civilians who lived through this pivotal time? In THE UNTOLD CIVIL WAR: Exploring the Human Side of War (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-0812-6; on-sale date: Oct. 18, 2011; $40), James Robertson, distinguished Civil War historian and award-winning author of “Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend,” offers a totally new perspective on the Civil War as he examines, through 132 previously untold personal stories, the lives of those living in a country ripped in half.

“To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the National Geographic Society has invited award-winning historian James Robertson to share with readers his intimate knowledge of the subject, acquired over many years as a teacher, scholar, and consummate storyteller,” writes editor Neil Kagan, creator of the best-selling National Geographic books “Concise History of the World,” “Eyewitness to the Civil War” and “Atlas of the Civil War,” in his foreword. “The result is THE UNTOLD CIVIL WAR, a unique collection of true stories that dramatize something often left untold in accounts of campaigns and battles — the human side of war. Revealed here are the hopes, fears, foibles, and ideals of Americans of all descriptions, caught up in a great historic epic that defined this nation.”

Focusing on the experiences of war often forgotten in textbooks, THE UNTOLD CIVIL WAR combines a vivid overview of the war’s major events with stories of human drama. Each chapter showcases new accounts of the different aspects of war: Human Side of War; Life of Soldiers; Resources, Resolve and Ingenuity; A War of Firsts; Warriors, Poets and Scoundrels; and Aftermath. These lesser-known stories range from the shocking to the amusing — from the accounts of Ulysses Grant’s intense hatred of the sight of blood to the story of a donkey adopted by a Confederate regiment with a habit of wandering into the colonel’s tent. Surprising firsts of the war — including the story of the man who first drew Santa Claus and the political symbols of the donkey and elephant — as well as unknown stories of some of the war’s most famous names fill the pages and uncover new aspects of this era in American history.

Richly illustrated with 475 rare images, the book features photographs of battle scenes, war artifacts and people — both prominent figures and unknown soldiers and civilians. Maps show important locations and battlefields, and paintings and drawings from the Civil War era depict many of the people and places of significance.

A distinctive and memorable compilation of stories and images that reveal the human emotion and experience of war, THE UNTOLD CIVIL WAR is an entertaining and informative reflection of a critical period in our nation’s story.

About the Author
James Robertson is one of the most distinguished names in Civil War history. A nationally acclaimed teacher and lecturer, he has written or edited two dozen books on the Civil War era. His award-winning biography of Stonewall Jackson was hailed as “a book every student of the war should read and every chronicler should emulate.” Early in his career, Robertson was appointed executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission by President John F. Kennedy. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech.


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