The Rebirth of a Nation
By Joseph E. Stevens
(Bantam, Paperback, 9780553378368, 464pp.)
Publication Date: October 3, 2000
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American history has never seen a more tumultuous or more significant year than 1863. During this crucial time the tide of the Civil War turned inexorably from the Confederacy to the Union, with momentous consequences that are still being felt today. It was a year of upheaval unparalleled in our national experience: twelve months of searing brutality and ennobling sacrifice, 365 stirring, dramatic days that changed our country forever.
Integrating the events of this epochal year into a panoramic narrative, Joseph E. Stevens presents a grand portrait of the Union and Confederacy at war. He captures two nations struggling to define the American experiment and create a new understanding of freedom on the bloody battlefields of Stones River, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. He also traces the astonishing political, economic, and social transformations that marked 1863 as a watershed.
1863 features a remarkable cast of characters: larger-than-life leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; charismatic and controversial military commanders like Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, James Longstreet, Joseph Hooker, Stonewall Jackson, George Armstrong Custer, and Nathan Bedford Forrest; avaricious young capitalists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J. P. Morgan; war-haunted writers like Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, and Walt Whitman; war-inspired painters like Winslow Homer and Conrad Wise Chapman.
Here, too, is a host of less well known but no less fascinating personalities: soldiers and civilians, slaves and slave owners, farmers and city dwellers, politicians and profiteers, artistocrats and refugees. Their stories—humorous and harrowing, inspiring and appalling—make 1863 not just a sweeping re-creation of events but a gripping human tale as well.
1863 is popular history at its best—vivid, vibrant, and immensely readable. Written with dramatic intensity and impassioned humanity, it is a thrilling account of the pivotal year of the war that remains the central historical event in the life of our nation.
Joseph E. Stevens's first book, Hoover Dam: An American Adventure, received the John H. Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association, the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize of the Western History Association, and the Western Writers of America's Spur Award. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed America's National Battlefield Parks. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.