Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Ironclads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War

Mr. Lincoln's High-tech War - Thomas B. Allen, Fred Sullivan

Ok, seriously, I did not mean to make everything about the American Civil War just sorta turned out that way. And I have more that I want to read in that field...funny how things work out all at once.


Allen and Allen's book was not exactly new information to me. I think I'd heard most of it in one form or another from various sources including: classes, other books, Ken Burn's documentary, and my Dad. That is not entirely the point of this book. Oh, certainly for someone new to the subject, this is a great book to introduce the concept of The Civil War as a modern and tech-filled war; something that would be easy for history classes to gloss over or simply not mention. However, if you are looking for groundbreaking information, this simply isn't it.


But that is not a bad thing; instead the book pulls all those loose threads and distributed topics and weaves them together to form a concise and compelling narrative. What truly worked in this book was how they set up introducing each of the new components into the larger picture of the war. Each improvement or technological step up was told in connection with a part of the war it is inextricably linked to. For example: rifled carbines were brought up during the chapter containing a brilliant cavalry engagement. Other examples would be the telegraph discussed both at the beginning of the book, but also at the end, when a Confederate telegraph intercepted by the North led to Lee's army being deprived completely of rations - thus hastening his surrender; Ironclads discussed during the Monitor and Merrimac battle; and siege warfare discussed during Petersburg.


All of these connected discussions, item linked with best use of them during the war, were further connected with the larger narrative by placing the events in chronological order. Thus some extremely important breakthroughs were not discussed right away, but rather placed in the context of when they were brought in to win the war. Brilliant.


As for the audiobook itself: it was well set up with each section of the different parts separated so they didn't just run together. The narrator had a great voice, deep but not monotone, and made the listening interesting. He actually tried to give different figures different voices when he quoted them but it wasn't overdone.


There is one downside to this, however. I think I'm going to re-read this at some point in its hardcover version as I believe it must be a wonderfully illustrated book, which would be a vast aid in learning and understanding. I really enjoyed the audiobook, but I think the book might be the better of the two for that reason.