A World on Fire by Amanda Foreman
Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War

78%

25 Critic Reviews

This is a tale never previously told. It is a reminder of both an America and a Britain that existed in the 19th century, insufficiently known today.
-Financial Times

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

10 BEST BOOKS • THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW • 2011
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Chicago Tribune • The Economist • Nancy Pearl, NPR • Bloomberg.com • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly
 
In this brilliant narrative, Amanda Foreman tells the fascinating story of the American Civil War—and the major role played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle. Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of the Civil War. From the first cannon blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, they served as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses, blockade runners and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman introduces characters both humble and grand, while crafting a panoramic yet intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy. In the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on muddy fields and aboard packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions made, the beliefs held and contested, and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ultimately led to the reunification of America.
 
“Engrossing . . . a sprawling drama.”—The Washington Post
 
“Eye-opening . . . immensely ambitious and immensely accomplished.”—The New Yorker
 
WINNER OF THE FLETCHER PRATT AWARD FOR CIVIL WAR HISTORY




From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Amanda Foreman

See more books from this Author
Amanda Foreman is a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London. She won the Whitbread Prize for Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. She is married with five children, and lives in both New York and London.
 
Published June 28, 2011 by Random House. 1008 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 27 2014
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Critic reviews for A World on Fire
All: 25 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on May 15 2011

A staggering work of research, occasionally toilsome to read.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Jun 30 2011

What for American readers will be a more riveting — because unfamiliar — tale comes whenever Foreman turns from the patriotic gore to her true subject of the British and the war.

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Guardian

Good
on Nov 27 2010

...Foreman has created a shimmering tapestry, which offers readers a fresh view of this convulsive, devastating war.

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Guardian

Above average
on Oct 31 2010

In the absence of heroes, Foreman marshals a cast of thousands. Hers is narrative history aspiring to the condition of the Victorian novel.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 11 2011

...Foreman amply offers a new perspective on the war in an elegantly written work of old-fashioned narrative history.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Michael Burlingame on Jun 25 2011

Amanda Foreman's well-researched and highly readable "A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War" examines why the British government never did recognize the Confederacy...Ms. Foreman...is such an engaging writer that readers may find this 958-page volume too short.

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Financial Times

Above average
on Dec 10 2010

This is a tale never previously told. It is a reminder of both an America and a Britain that existed in the 19th century, insufficiently known today.

Read Full Review of A World on Fire: Britain's Cr... | See more reviews from Financial Times

The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Gary W. Gallagher on Jul 01 2011

A brief review can only hint at the expansive scope, rich detail and pulsing energy of “A World on Fire.” Foreman succeeds admirably in evoking the British dimension of the great American crisis.

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The Washington Post

Above average
on Jun 14 2011

Foreman succeeds admirably in evoking the British dimension of the great American crisis.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by David Evans on Jun 19 2011

Amanda Foreman's fascinating study documents the tangled web of relationships that implicated this country in the battle over the Atlantic...Nevertheless, Foreman's scholarship is impressive, and her narrative unfolds with the irresistible momentum of a cavalry charge. A richly compelling history.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by Piers Brendon on Dec 10 2010

Lyons, responsible for the large number of Britons in America, is really the hero of Foreman's story...Nevertheless, A World on Fire is by no means a complete success. It is overweight, too heavy to hold comfortably and too packed with miscellaneous information,..Yet if her tome is hard to pick up, it is also hard to put down.

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The Telegraph

Below average
on Nov 30 2010

...the narrative sometimes moves painfully slowly...

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The Telegraph

Good
on Oct 31 2010

...800 fluent pages that meld great events with colourful characters, and some of her footnotes merit chapters of their own.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
on Aug 04 2011

“A World on Fire” is so expansive in its scope, and so well written, that to call it a masterpiece somehow doesn’t seem to do it justice.

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Dallas News

Excellent
on Jul 08 2011

Her book offers a brisk, compelling narrative that shows how important Britain was to the outcome of the war and how close the Union came to losing it.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Good

The most appealing aspect of A World on Fire is the fresh perspective it applies to such a well-worn topic as the American Civil War.

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Express

Good
on Nov 05 2010

There are so many fascinating aspects to this story and Foreman does justice to them all.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
on Jul 01 2011

Connoisseurs of political gossip, intrigue, and diplomacy will applaud as a cast of historic, and sometimes neglected, figures take their turn on a stage of epic proportions.

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Salon

Good
Reviewed by Meredith Hindley on Jul 09 2011

Connoisseurs of political gossip, intrigue and diplomacy will applaud as a cast of historic, and sometimes neglected, figures take their turn on a stage of epic proportions.

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London Review of Books

Good

Amanda Foreman’s remarkable new book suggests that it takes a foreigner to clear the air of cant.

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Foreign Affairs

Good

...an illuminating and engaging book that casts new light on figures such as U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, and the Confederate leader Jefferson Davis.

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Literary Review

Excellent

Born in England and brought up in America, Foreman can see the war from both perspectives and is the ideal guide for this fascinating tale of diplomatic intrigue and skulduggery.

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BBC History Magazine

Excellent

...an absorbing and enjoyable book. Widely researched, artfully constructed, compellingly written, and colourfully textured, it is an epic realisation of an epic history.

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Medieval Bookworm

Excellent
Reviewed by Meghan on Mar 30 2011

Instead, it is a history of the Civil War and at the same time a reflection of British and American relations during the war from the perspective of the people who lived through it...Those who are not history buffs may find it dry and lengthy at times, but those who are obsessed like me will undoubtedly adore A World on Fire. Highly recommended.

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History Today

Good
Reviewed by Adam I.P. Smith on Feb 02 2011

There are many splendid narrative histories of the Civil War, but none that describe its global impact as clearly as this one. Written on a vast canvas that weaves together the inner lives of individuals...Amanda Foreman has offered us a brilliant example of how to combine thrilling narrative on a grand scale with genuine scholarly authority.

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