An Interview with James McPherson: Thirty Years After the Publication of Battle Cry of Freedom

Historians in the News
tags: Civil War, historians, history, James McPherson

Few individuals have influenced the understanding of an entire historical topic more than Princeton University historian Dr. James McPherson. McPherson’s bold 1988 narrative, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, examines the social, political, and economic factors related to antebellum America and the Civil War. The book, which earned the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in History, spans over eight hundred pages. And yet, the book’s impressive narrative style makes it entirely accessible for the general reader. Indeed, Battle Cry of Freedom is often described as the “best one-volume” account of the Civil War.

Last November, I was able to sit down with Dr. McPherson in person. I asked him to reflect on the thirty years that have passed since the publication of his seminal work. The interview captured some of his thoughts related to the modern study of the Civil War, his views on various contemporary issues, and his approach to education.

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