A World on Fire
Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
By Amanda Foreman
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780375504945, 1008pp.)
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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10 BEST BOOKS • THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • 2011
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Chicago Tribune • The Economist • Nancy Pearl, NPR • Bloomberg.com • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed historian 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.
Amanda Foreman is a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. She won the Whitbread Prize for Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, which was adapted for the screen as The Duchess. Educated as an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College and with master’s and doctorate degrees in history from Oxford University, she is now married with five children and lives in New York.
A New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year!
The Economist, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The St Louis Post-Dispatch, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal all list A World on Fire as one of the best books of 2011!
"Ms. Foreman...is such an engaging writer that readers may find this 958-page volume too short."—Michael Burlingame, The Wall Street Journal
"Extraordinary cast....Thoroughly researched and well written...Remarkable."—Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New York Times Book Review
"One puts down A World on Fire with a sense of awe. Foreman's skills as historian and writer are formidable."—The Boston Globe
"Foreman's descriptive gifts show especially well in bringing vividly to life the political and diplomatic worlds of Washington and London...A brief review can only hint at the expansive scope, rich detail and pulsing energy of A World on Fire."—The Washington Post
"[A] magisterial history."—Newsweek
"So expansive in its scope, and so well written...to call it a masterpiece somehow doesn't seem to do it justice."—Christian Science Monitor
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