A People's Contest

The Union and Civil War, 1861-1865

Second Edition, with a new Preface

Phillip Shaw Paludan

"This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men. . . . to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life."—Abraham Lincoln

Chosen by Civil War magazine as one of the 200 best books on the war, Phillip Paludan's acclaimed work was the first book since 1910 to describe in a single volume the multifaceted impacts of this tragic conflict on Northern society.

“A thoughtful, scholarly, and highly readable survey of the changes wrought in northern society by the twin engines of Civil War and industrialization.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Required reading for all students of the era. The generals, the politics, and the campaigns are here, but they are treated from such a different perspective that Paludan has accomplished the scholarly paradox of a fresh innovative work that is based on secondary material.”

—Jean H. Baker, Reviews in American History
See all reviews...

Weaving together insights from literature, law, politics, economics, diplomacy, and religion, Paludan shows how the North redefined itself as a modern nation through two monumental and inextricably linked events—the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. More than that, he brings this story to life through the lives and writings of the individuals, great and small, who experienced and influenced the events he describes.

"A thoughtful, scholarly, and highly readable survey of the changes wrought in northern society by the twin engines of Civil War and industrialization."—Kirkus Reviews.

"Required reading for all students of the era. The generals, the politics, and the campaigns are here, but they are treated from such a different perspective that Paludan has accomplished the scholarly paradox of a fresh innovative work that is based on secondary material."—Jean H. Baker, Reviews in American History.

"A remarkable achievement that boldly seeks to link the new economic and social history with traditional political and military approaches to the conflict. A stunning accomplishment of synthetic scholarship."—American Historical Review.

"Both a moving narrative of people under pressure and judicious survey of major topics, this book will speak to the imagination of students and teachers long after they have put down other recent works of crude historical materialism and bestselling popular syntheses."—Civil War History.

"Paludan's brilliant prose rests on wide-ranging, imaginative research and gifted historical insights. A splendid book that will take precedence among studies of the North in war."—Frank Vandiver, Journal of American History.

"For readers interested in a thoughtful survey of the impact of the Civil War on northern society, this is the place to begin."—Joseph T. Glatthaar, Georgia Historical Quarterly.

About the Author

Phillip Shaw Paludan, one of the nation's foremost authorities on the Civil War, is visiting professor of history at Rutgers University at Camden. His most recent book, The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, received the 1995 Lincoln Prize, the Barondess/Lincoln Award, and was a selection of both the History Book Club and the Book-of-the-Month Club. His other works include Victims: A True Story of the Civil War and A Covenant with Death: The Constitution, Law, and Equality in the Civil War Era.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series