Sherman Book Apparently “Selling Big”
It's nice to see a thick Civil War book like Noah A. Trudeau's Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea, sitting pretty at #20 on the NYT's Hardcover Bestseller List. While I did receive an advanced copy I have not yet read it, and to be honest, I have no idea if I will ever get around to reading it. I've already read Joseph Glatthaar's wonderful study of the soldier experience along with Mark Grimsley's analysis of the campaign as part of a broader story of U.S. military policy in the South. Perhaps I would be more interested if Trudeau's thesis challenged what has become accepted by scholars, which is that Sherman's march was not the apocalyptic event that Lost Cause-inspired white Southerners would have us believe. Yes, it was destructive, but it can also be defined by restraint and worked to carry out a specific objective to bring the war to a speedy conclusion. Much of the whining simply fails to convey anything of historical value to the subject, and as John Marszalek is fond of noting, many stories of families caught in the middle of Sherman's "hordes" didn't live anywhere near the avenues of march.
From the reviews I've read [see here, here, and here] it looks like the book will force Civil War enthusiasts to rethink some of their assumptions about the nature of "hard war" and the salient characteristics of Sherman's March. That's always a good thing.