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Living Hell


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We often wrap the American Civil War in a romantic veneer. In Living Hell, Michael C. C. Adams strips away the facade to provide a necessary and compelling dose of reality about the war as it was seen and experienced by those who lived it. This is not another story of battles and campaigns. It is instead a broad tapestry that takes the reader to many dark corners of the war which are often left unconsidered. -- D. Scott Hartwig, author of To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Michael C. C. Adams sees the Civil War for what it was, and not how we like to imagine it... Living Hell brilliantly recovers the terrified voices of men who were emotionally torn and twisted by combat. This is a compelling and important book that forces us to think deeply about how we 'celebrate' the heroism of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb. -- Peter S. Carmichael, Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies, Gettysburg College

Table of Contents

PrefaceOpening: Jim Conklin and General Sherman1. Gone for a Soldier2. On the March3. Close-Order Combat4. Clearing the Battlefield5. The Edge of Sanity6. Deprivations and Dislocations7. Invasions and Violations8. State of the UnionClosing: General Lee and the Gray LadiesNotesSuggested Further ReadingIndex

About the Author

Michael C. C. Adams, Regents Professor of History Emeritus at Northern Kentucky University, is the author of The Best War Ever: America and World War II and Our Masters the Rebels: A Speculation on Union Military Failure in the East, 1861-1865, winner of the Museum of the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis Prize for the best Civil War book.


Any who would truly understand the daily trials of the Civil War must have this book! * Midwest Book Review *
Provides a vital gut-wrenching counterpoint to the Civil War's glamorization in America's collective memory, a perspective as important to understanding the war as any political history or general's biography. Living Hell will appeal to lovers of military history while being accessible enough for general readers. Those with the fortitude to endure its darkest moments will find it fascinating. * Shelf Awareness *
In Adams' hands, the Civil War's legacy is unmitigated personal horror, societal suffering, and political factionalism... Living Hell engagingly opens up the 'dark side' of the Civil War to comparative scrutiny with other modern wars. * Civil War Monitor *
This powerful counterpoint to Civil War glorification paints a stark portrait of the true brutality of the conflict... Living Hell is a moving, often graphic, exploration of what the war did to men's bodies and minds. * History Book Club *
This book has made an important contribution to Civil War studies by reminding us graphically of the war's dark side. * New York Review of Books *
This essential book gives soldiers their due and presents the realities of war in a way few have dared. Ideal for anyone interested in military history. * Library Journal (starred review) *
A compelling and salutary reminder of the frightful miseries of war. All students of the Civil War and military history in general should contemplate the lessons of war's terrors revealed in this powerful and uncompromising book. * Michigan War Studies Review *
This book is a well researched, well written look down the rabbit hole of the Civil War as it was, not how we have come to imagine and glorify it. -- David Lee Poremba * The Past in Review *
Civil War scholars will find the horrrors recounted [in this book] amplified as they evoke memories of gory and macabre passages they have read in the past. -- Thomas E. Rodgers * Civil War Book Review *
This was a very powerful book, chronicling the horrors of the Civil War. The author goes into great depth regarding not only the war itself, but on the causes and the aftermath. * History Buffs *
[Adams] writes well, and he has done an impressive job of finding vivid accounts in the letters and memoirs of scores of soldiers and civilians from both sides... Civil War buffs will surely want to buy this book. -- Roger Cunningham * The Journal of America's Military Past *
In his short but tightly organized and strongly argued book, Adams guides his readers to reconsider some cherished beliefs about this long-ago war... Michael Adams has provided a sober reminder of the real costs of this war. This book should be on the shelves of all students and teachers of the Civil War, to be reached for every time one is tempted to call the worst war in American history grand and glorious. -- John G. Selby * History *
Living Hell is a very lucid text by senior American Civil War historian who can look back on not only this war but also on its vast literature in order to highlight that which remains dark and disturbing. His work is a very readable reminder about the hardship and suffering involved in such conflict-and of the many kinds of costs borne both by those directly involved in that conflict and also by all. -- Leonard Hummel * Seminary Ridge Review *
Professor Adams brings together in a single volume many of these aspects of the Civil War's encompassing and grim nature. The book is a starkly painted portrait of a divided nation engulfed in a four-year nightmare. * Civil War News *

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