Don't Know Much About the Civil War

Version: Unabridged
Author: Kenneth C. Davis
Narrator: Kenneth C. Davis
Genres: History
Publisher: BDD Audio
Published In: September 1998
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
Tell Your Friends:


What was the leading cause of death among Civil War soldiers? Why did Robert E. Lee resign from the U.S. army? Which group was exempt from the Confederate draft? Whom did the Emancipation Proclamation emancipate? Was the Gettysburg Address truly written on the back of an envelope? Did General Sherman really say, "War is Hell?"

If you can't answer most of these questions, you're not alone. Millions of Americans, bored by dull textbooks, are in the dark about the most significant event in American history. Too many others thought they learned it all from Gone With the Wind.

Bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis sheds light on these and other questions about America's greatest conflict in this fascinating program, providing listeners with everything they "need to know" about the Civil War. With his deft wit and unconventional style, Davis sorts out the players, the politics, and the key events. Drawing on moving eyewitness accounts of the people who lived through the war, he brings listeners into the world of the ordinary men and women who made history--the side of the story that textbooks never tell.

Don't Know Much About® the Civil War explodes the myths and misconceptions about the war, its causes, and the men who fought on both sides. A brilliant crash course, it vividly brings to life Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Generals Lee and Grant, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Beecher Stowe. It looks behind the battles and the tactics to the astounding human misery the war brought upon a divided nation, and includes a wealth of "hidden history," the lesser-known facts sure to fascinate even the most learned Civil War buff.

Reviews (15)

Don't know much about the civil war

Written by DAS on March 8th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Typical Davis "Don't know much about ....". You'll learn some interesting facts and bits of knowledge. You'll be reminded of things you learned in school. But, Davis' writings (and the narrators chosen!!) come across as whiny, snotty, liberal, we're (the U.S.) always doing something wrong, complainers. If you can ignore the attitude, and just enjoy some interesting history/trivia, then this is worth listening to. It's 5 CDs, which is enough. When all is summed up, it's a 3.

Don't Know Much About the Civil War

Written by Judy Charles on May 17th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I am a tour guide in Charleston, S.C. I was very upset with some of the info in this book. One major error was that the Succession Papers were signed on Dec. 20, 1860 not 1865. Also, Denmark Vessey bought his freedom this being true but he didn't leave the area because he was trying to buy the freedom of his wife and children.Women and children were far more important to the land owners and slave buyers because they were used to reproduce thus causing more slaves for the future. After reading further on I decided I knew more than the author!!!

Don't know Much

Written by William Kurry on December 5th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Nice easy read. Slavery as the main cause of the Civil War. Many insightful points to consider.

History Revisitied

Written by Rhonda from Huntersville, NC on September 6th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I enjoyed the historic overview. This was my second listen to this book, great for any history buff like myself.

Don't Know Much About the Civil War

Written by Rocket on August 9th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Although the book offered facts not taught by our History Teachers that deem useful in this day and age, he chose a reader with a very sarcastic attitude throughout the entire reading. This makes the information seem as though the people of the Civil War should have known better. In the year 2007, we should know better as we should learn from the History. The people of the past are determined people to serve and protect their own and those that believe in and stand for their ideals. Over time their ideals change and intelligence is heightened and pride is shot down, but it was a time that we in the present can learn from. Using a reader with an attitude heightens racial tensions and we don't need that now, we need respect and love for one another.


Written by Carol Craig on April 11th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I thought this book was effective in describing, in general, the battles, circumstances, and generals of the war. I did find several small mistakes, but felt, on the whole, it would be an effective read for the person who is new to the study of the Civil War. I did feel some of the information presented was a bit biased, and wasn't crazy about the author's "aside" comments. Definitely not a book for intensive scholarly study. But again, effective for the beginning student.

Dont know much about the CivilWar

Written by Philly from NO on November 2nd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book flowed very well, and was easy to follow. I learned a lot about slavery and the root causes of many problems today.


Written by John Domanico on June 22nd, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Mr. Davis starts the book by saying how people come up to him and tell him that they became interested in the civil war after seeing Gone With The Wind. I would have been one of those people. But after reading the book, I see so much more. Mr. Davis provides concise (to short) stories about the war and it’s people. Written from a common man point of view, it provides insights that one cannot get through history books.


Written by George Lewis from Helena, AL on May 6th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Provides a great deal of info on why we fought the war, focusing on slavery. Probably too much though. Was hoping for more info on the battles, and anecdotes of the war.

Worthy, but Limited

Written by Anonymous on March 15th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Kenneth Davis does an admirable job condensing four years, a million American dead and wounded, and the absolute chaos of the Civil War into a succinct 4-5 hour presentation. Davis poses his chapters, as in his other books, in the form of a question - then answers it and much, much more. Fort Pillow? Appomattox? Dred Scott? Yeah... it's all there. He seems to always take the "common man" approach, so you'll see a different side. I recommend it to all those even slightly interested. My only criticism is the huge emphasis on slavery. While an important component, it wasn't the sole reason for the war.

Author Details

Author Details

Davis, Kenneth C.

Kenneth C. Davis is the bestselling author of "America's Hidden History" and "Don't Know Much About(R) History", which spent thirty-five consecutive weeks on the "New York Times" bestseller list, has sold nearly 1.6 million copies, and gave rise to his phenomenal "Don't Know Much About(R)" series for adults and children. He lives in New York City and Dorset, Vermont.