Interview With Henry Steele Commanger


One of our occasional looks at Civil War historians.  Henry Steele Commanger lived from 1902-1998 and was writing until just a few years until his death. He held chairs in history at New York University, Columbia and Amherst.  His books and articles were legion.  His most notable writing on the Civil War was The Blue and the Gray published in two large volumes in 1950.  The subtitle, “The Civil War as told by Participants“, aptly describes the work.  Commanger in the over 1200 pages of the two volumes gives an encyclopedic selection from period letters, newspaper articles, memoirs, speeches, etc.  His selections are judicious and his commentary between the passages incisive.  Commanger would later use the same method with equal success in telling the story of the Revolution in The Spirit of Seventy-Six.  Unfortunately his method  caused a host of imitative “cut and paste” histories where his method was copied but not his skill.  However, that is hardly the fault of Commanger.



  1. WOOO!!! A. why couldn’t I have had a history professor with a mind like that. B.imagine a CBS editorialist challenging any person he is interviewing about “spiritual” issues.
    How our world has changed.
    thanks again, Dennis McCutcheon

    • The dumbing down of our culture Dennis in such a short time would be unbelievable to me if I hadn’t lived through it.

  2. amen!

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