Civil War Book Review: The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict

The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict
by Andre M. Fleche

The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalistic Conflict by Andre FlecheProduct Details

The American Civil War as part of a worldwide movement.

We like to think of “OUR” Civil War as a uniquely American event.  We understand international diplomacy plays a part in the war but our concentration is on events in America.  We see the causes of the war as longstanding American events with almost no outside influences.  We know that the American Civil War resulted from American problems while providing an American solution.  The author is not trying to change this perception.  Nor does he say their is anything wrong with it.  In fact, he hardly acknowledges its’ existence.

This book looks at the American Civil War as being part of a revolution sweeping European nations in the early to mid-1800s.  It started with revolutions in South America, spread to Europe and in time to America.  The common thread of the movement is a people wishing to break free and establish a nation of their own.  This is a novel idea and one the author does a good job explaining and supporting.  This includes seeing Southerners as a distinct people within the United States.

The United States was very supportive of the revolts in South America and Europe.  This put them at a disadvantage when confronted with a revolt of their own.  This forces them to attempt to establish differences between a revolt by Southerners and Pole or Hungarians.  At the same time, Southerners are making a real effort to establish themselves as distinct people.  This is a very interesting look at an almost unknown facet of the war.  The gymnastics involved are amusing even as they are deadly serious.

This is a well-researched book, with excellent end notes, a full Bibliography and index.  The author presents an intelligent well-supported position that is very convincing as he opens a new area of study and extends the diplomatic part of the war.  While this is not an easy read or an exciting one, it is a worthwhile one.  After reading this book, you will never think of the American Civil War as a uniquely American event again.


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