By Mark M. Boatner III; David McKay Company; 974 pages.
Anybody with even a passing interest in our greatest national trial should be happy to learn that Boatner’s splendid reference work has been reissued. First published in 1959, The Civil War Dictionary covers every aspect of the struggle with more than four thousand entries that range from biographical sketches—there are about two thousand of them—to accounts of twenty major campaigns that are both comprehensive and well written. Along with the expected entries on a host of skirmishes, weapons, and army organization are others that suggest the author’s lively interest in his subject. For instance, Boatner follows his entry on HOOKER, JOSEPH with another, HOOKER’S LETTER , which allows him to quote in its entirety the stinging communication the Union general received from his Commander in Chief: ”… I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. …”