Book Review: A Fierce Glory: Antietam--The Desperate Battle That Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery


by Justin Martin

New York: Da Capo Press, 2018. Pp. xviii, 318+. Illus., maps, notes, index. $28.00. ISBN: 0306825252

Antietam Within the “Big Picture”

Martin, is the author of several works on Civil War-era America, and in A Fierce Glory offers an interesting view of the Battle of Antietam and its military, political, and diplomatic implications.

Martin sets the battle within the overall framework of the war. So we see it as it was experienced by many people – most notably focused on Lincoln, George Meade, and Robert E. Lee, but also many others on the battle line, in the hospitals, and elsewhere – using their actions and experiences to help the reader understand why things happened as they did, how these people responded to the events, and how the events affected their actions on many levels.  Naturally, we also see how these events influenced the public, international opinion, and the progress of the war in general, particularly in offering Lincoln the opportunity to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.  

Martin’s analysis of Lee’s motives for undertaking an invasion of Maryland is very good, suggesting considerably more political acumen than is usually ascribed to the man, and he throws fresh light on Lee’s unedited views about slavery, which are very much contrary to traditional accounts of his opinions. Martin’s treatment of Lincoln’s evolution toward the Emancipation Proclamation is very well done, giving us some insight into the President’s strategic thinking. very clear .

Although there are a number of excellent, more detailed treatments of the fighting, Martin does a good job of setting the battle within the “The Big Picture”, making A Fierce Glory a useful book for anyone familiar with the events, and an excellent one for those seeking an introduction to them.


Note: A Fierce Glory is also available in audio- and e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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