A More Civil War: How The Union Waged A Just War, by D.H. Dilbeck
Now, I must candidly admit that I have not reviewed as many books for the Michigan War Studies Review as I have for other military journals . Part of this is due to the fact that the book reviews are very difficult to write, usually taking many hours of writing and editing, and then waiting for months before the reviews once sent go online. The process as a whole can be a bit demanding and somewhat draining, so I try to make sure that the books I read from them are going to be worth the rather intense effort needed to finish a review. Be that as it may, when I saw a book that looked at the Union cause in the Civil War as a just war, my attention was immediately drawn. After all, I have long been concerned with the tension between the moral conduct of individuals on a practical and ideal plane and the tensions between the need to conduct one’s warfare effectively as well as humanely, a tension I am all too familiar with in my own conflict-ridden life.
So, having received the book, what about it strikes me as interesting? For one, the book is reasonably small, at under 200 pages of text and some immense bibliography and notes. It is as if the author knows that his contention that the Union fought a just war against the Confederacy in the Civil War is going to cause some controversy and he wants to make sure to prove his point beyond a reasonable doubt. I was also curious to see that the author was focusing on a person I have never heard of before in Francis Leiber, whose writings on the principles of how Union generals should engage in military conflict appear to have had a dramatic influence on the combination of ferocity and restraint that characterized the Union war effort. It probably goes without saying that ferocity and restraint characterize my own behavior in conflicts, and that it is also just and also somewhat difficult for people to understand and appreciate. This looks like a most promising book on a variety of levels, then. I look forward to reading and reviewing it.
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