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The Civil War Experience

SouthPeak Interactive

ages 11 to adult

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

The Civil War Experience Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

The Civil War Experience by SouthPeak Interactive is created in conjunction with the History Channel and the Civil War Trust. This CD compiles a vast amount of Civil War information and augments it with historical black and white photographs, eyewitness accounts, video clips from the Civil War Journal (a History Channel Civil War documentary series), interactive battle maps, pertinent historical speeches, music, and more.

This intricate CD is divided into six key sections: Road to the War, Daily Lives, Troops and Battles, People, Politics of War, and Legacy of War. Within each section are 3-14 related subsections. For example, The Road to War has 14 major subsections. Some of these include: Slavery and abolition, the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott decision. In the People section 150 political, military, and civilians are concisely chronicled. If you are bored with reading factual data then test your retention by taking a trivia test or play one of two games available (Blockade runner or the Cannon game) - you might have to be really bored though!

The CD wisely provides you with a quick tour of how the information is organized. To further assist you there are always the Navigator button, Search by keyword, or Help tabs. If you are confused just return to the main menu. A Scroll button, Fast scroll, and End /beginning arrow are provided for quick, quicker, quickest passage through printed content. The Copy/print button allows you to print out personal copies of photos and information to use in reports or for easy reference. A Timeline calendar pinpoints exact dates and events. You can click on a day and go directly to the related content. Background music can be turned off and there are three audio volume setting options available. The Web site provides updates on upcoming living history or web site events, contemporary articles of interest, contains forums and chats with noted Civil War experts, links to other pertinent sites, and databases of resources.

Educational Value
This is another well-crafted CD by SouthPeak Interactive containing a wealth of factual information in a polished, coordinated format that has visual and auditory appeal. The Civil War Experience is a detailed educational CD documentary.

Kid Appeal
Certainly The Civil War Experience will interest older children by the depth and complexity of its polished presentation style. The younger set just isn't going to be engaged by reading about the suspension of Habeas Corpus even with pertinent historical photographs and audio supplements. The concept of war often makes younger children uncomfortable. The CD states it is for everyone but the intricacies of the subject matter probably make it most appropriate for teenagers and above.

Although our reviewers did not find this as emotionally captivating as SouthPeak's Ellis Island Experience, it is certainly as well-organized and comprehensive in its refined presentation of quality information. It tries to mix the heavy factual data with some lighter topics (fashion, manners, food, songs, strategy) and throws in a couple of "games" for a quick break. The auditory "accounts" and "enactments" are realistic and interesting. Again they try to engage on several levels.

Ease of Use / Install
On our Windows test machine, the installation was seamless and took approximately 10 minutes. Navigation through the different modules and tabs was fairly quick. It was easy to get a bit disoriented at times (What section or sub- section am I in?) because of the abundance of informational topics but the Navigator or Level up buttons quickly reorient the user. It is easy to precisely access specific information with just a few clicks. SouthPeak has taken care to make this multimedia CD extremely user-friendly.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
The Civil War Experience is a terrific classroom supplement for students covering the Civil War experience or American history. Parents, teachers, homeschoolers, and Civil War buffs will find this a comprehensive reference and resource tool.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other history software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only program.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, Pentium 133 or faster cpu, 32 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, 16-bit Windows compatible sound card, mouse or other pointing device, [optional] Internet access.

Reviewed on:

  • PentiumIII-550 with 128MB and 32XCD
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