McFarland Civil War Book of the Week: The Causes of the Civil War: The Political, Cultural, Economic and Territorial Dispute Between North and South

by Brett Schulte on March 16, 2011 · 3 comments

The Causes of the Civil War: The Political, Cultural, Economic and Territorial Dispute Between North and South

Author: Paul Calore

TOCWOC’s Take:
The Causes of the Civil War: The Political, Cultural, Economic and Territorial Dispute Between North and South by Paul CalorePaul Calore’s The Causes of the Civil War was written to “reduce the complex subject of sectionalism to its most fundamental form” and “to illustrate how the most troubling political, cultural, economic, and territorial issues of the times influenced the relations between the North and the South.”  In mini-histories of some of the most troubling issues, the author looks at how the sides interacted and felt about each issue.  Oddly, because the author is presenting a synopsis of popular events, he chose not to include footnotes in the book.  Despite this curious omission, those new to the subject or who believe one single event or issue pushed America to the brink of war would do well to buy this book as a primer.  A brief chronology at the back of the book places the events discussed into the book into a short timeline of events and issues leading to the Civil War.

Book Info from McFarland Web Site:

About the Book

While South Carolina’s preemptive strike on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s subsequent call to arms started the Civil War, South Carolina’s secession and Lincoln’s military actions were simply the last in a chain of events stretching as far back as the early 1750s. Increasing moral conflicts and political debates over slavery–exacerbated by the inequities inherent between an established agricultural society and a growing industrial one–led to a fierce sectionalism which manifested itself through cultural, economic, political and territorial disputes. This historical study reduces sectionalism to its most fundamental form, examining the underlying source of this antagonistic climate. From protective tariffs to the expansionist agenda, it illustrates the ways in which the foremost issues of the time influenced relations between the North and the South.

About the Author

Paul Calore was an operations branch chief with the Defense Logistics Agency of the Department of Defense before retiring. In addition to writing on the causes of the Civil War, he has written books about its naval and land campaigns. He is a supporting member of the U.S. Civil War Center and the Civil War Preservation Trust, and lives in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Visit his website at

Click here to read more at the McFarland web site…

Buy the Book Online

ISBN: 978-0-7864-3304-9

Publisher: McFarland & Company (

Release Date: March 6, 2008

Price: $39.95

Order Line: 800-253-2187

Other Info: 7 photos, 2 maps, chronology, bibliography, index 308 pp. softcover 2008

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Graham March 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I looked quickly at the bibliography and index and found them both worrying. The bibliography is only 18 items and misses some rather important works, notably Freehling, Dew and Russel’s Economic Aspects of Southern Sectionalism. Meanwhile, Dred Scott appears to get one paragraph. You’d need to work a bit harder to convince me that this is worth reading.


Brett Schulte March 17, 2011 at 8:15 am


You make a good point, and one I should have been more clear on. This book treads no new ground. It’s definitely not one I’d recommend to advanced readers. The main use of this book, to me, would be to give a new reader some idea of the main disputes between the North and South in the years prior to the war.


Stephen Graham March 17, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I’m uncertain that the book would be useful in that regard. It’s worth asking whether the author has sufficient command of the subject to write such a work. It might be better to give a novice something like Brian Holden Reid’s _The Origins of the American Civil War_.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: