Drawn with the Sword

by James M. McPherson
Start Free Trial

What is an outline of Drawn with the Sword?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Drawn with the Sword is is a collection of essays written by James McPherson. Its topic is the American Civil War. However, McPherson chooses not to focus on the history of the battle. Rather, he takes a look at the place the Civil War occupies in American consciousness. He examines Americans's fascination with the war by looking at the debates its sparked, various reenactments, and the enduring role it's had in our collective concsiousness.

McPherson gives us answers to many of these questions throughout the collection. For example, he suggests that Americans are fascinated with the Civil War because we have an instinctive realization that it was fundamentally different from all other conflicts. There are obvious reasons for this. The war ended slavery and took an immense toll on the American population. About 2 percent of all living Americans in 1860 were killed in the Civil War. The number of causalties would exceed 5 million if the war took place today and folks died at the same rate. Throughout the book, the author explores the myriad of ways society has changed as a result of the Civil War.

For example, the American Republic was fundamentally changed after the war. Slavery was eliminated, which forced the South to overhaul its entire economy. Additionally, although slavery was outlawed, African Americans still faced horrific discrimination and acts of violence. The war couldn't change the hearts and minds of racist individuals.

All of these issues continue to be debated even today. That's why McPherson calls the Civil War "the war that never goes away." His collection of essays explores these issues in an entirely new way.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team