American Civil War
The Essential Reference Guide
by James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener, Editors
July 2011, 432pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-59884-905-9
$103, £80, 90€, A142
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-59884-906-6
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It was a war filled with larger-than-life personalities. On one side was legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee, formerly a respected U.S. Army officer and one-time superintendent of West Point. Union forces were, ultimately, led by Ulysses S. Grant, a soldier’s soldier who initially doubted his capacity for high command. Their stories are only two that make this monumental conflict so endlessly fascinating.

This essential reference work helps promote a thorough understanding of the conflict that divided the nation and proved more costly in terms of human suffering than any in American history.

Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide offers an accessible, single-volume source on the conflict that helped define the American nation. Enhanced by historical illustrations and documents, this guide promotes a nuanced understanding of the events, personalities, and issues related to the war and its aftermath.

In addition to an A–Z encyclopedia of major leaders, events, and issues, this work includes a comprehensive overview essay on the war, plus separate essays by a prominent Civil War historian on its causes and consequences. Perspective essays tackle such widely debated issues as the primary cause of the Confederate defeat and will inspire readers to exercise critical thinking skills. Biographies of military and political leaders provide insights about those individuals who played major roles in the conflict, while entries on key battles showcase the strategies of both sides as they struggled to emerge victorious.


  • 100 entries on leaders, battles, and more
  • Approximately 20 primary source documents with introductions that provide context to the text
  • Numerous images and maps
  • A detailed chronology that will help students place important events related to the Civil War that occurred before, during, and after the conflict
  • A comprehensive bibliography of print resources
James R. Arnold is a military historian and author of more than 20 books, including Grant Wins the War: Decision at Vicksburg and Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq.

Roberta Wiener is a contributor to several ABC-CLIO encyclopedias, including The Encyclopedia of North American Colonial Conflicts to 1775. She is managing editor of the Journal of Military History.


2011 Editors' Choice—Booklist, January 1, 2012


"With the 150th anniversary of the conflict underway, editors Arnold and Wiener have put together a handy resource that takes a manifold approach, combining an A–Z encyclopedia format with 20 lengthy, illustrative primary documents; an extensive chronology; and a handful of significant essays that tackle the causality and consequences of the Civil War. . . . Sources such as this will be indispensible to collections supporting middle and high-school curriculums."—Booklist, November 1, 2011

"Libraries that need single-volume Civil War ready reference or report material will appreciate this work. It combines opening essays featuring analysis of the war’s causes, consequences, and historical controversies; 100 encyclopedia entries; a selection of primary-source readings; and a highly detailed time line. The clearly written analytical essays place aspects of the war into context, and authors discuss opposing viewpoints and competing historical theories, but blame slavery and its defenders for the conflict."—School Library Journal, December 1, 2011

"Commemorating the 150th-year anniversary of the Civil War's beginning, editors Arnold and Wiener have compiled an inexpensive volume that covers the major military figures, battles, and panoply of war, along with the social and political forces that led to the conflict. . . . Recommended."—Choice, January 1, 2012

"In the Civil War domain of reference it is a very fine work built upon the solid writing and work of 37 scholars, of whom about one-third are independent. The publisher was smart to secure esteemed historian Steven E. Woodworth as a lead writer. His essay contributions include valuable treatments on an Overview of the ACW, Causes of the ACW, Consequences of the ACW, and Leadership in the ACW."—The Civil War Gazette, May 1, 2012
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