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Paperback Civil War Stories Book

ISBN: 0486280381

ISBN13: 9780486280387

Civil War Stories

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Book Overview

Newspaperman, short-story writer, poet, and satirist, Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) is one of the most striking and unusual literary figures America has produced. Dubbed "Bitter Bierce" for his vitriolic wit and biting satire, his fame rests largely on a celebrated compilation of barbed epigrams, The Devil's Dictionary, and a book of short stories (Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, 1891). Most of the 16 selections in this volume have...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

The randomness of chaos...

Happened upon this little gem in an out of the way flea-market. These Civil War stories are linked by happenstance, coincidence, and at times--brutal endings. The prose can be a bit on the 19th century formality side...but stick with it. Ambrose Bierce sees things others don't.


Today, if known at all, Ambrose Bierce is recalled as that guy who wrote that funny book The Devil's Dictionary. He was seen, and still is seen, as a sort of poor man's Mark Twain. This is quite unfair, as he was a marvelous writer in his own right, although not with the depth nor wit that Twain possessed. Part of the problem is that his personal life, strong opinions, and bitter biases (he loathed Oscar Wilde, for example), have led to his marginalization. Yet, Bierce was a master of the short story form- every bit the equal or superior of more lauded contemporaries like Guy de Maupassant, or O. Henry. Mostly, it is in the horror or thriller vein that his tales fall, but his best work, in my opinion, can be found in his marvelous tales of the Civil War....These are simply riveting tales, far more modern than his contemporaries work, and most of this is due to Bierce's journalistic background (he worked for William Randolph Hearst at the San Francisco Examiner). About the only thing that keeps the tales from a full claim on modernity is Bierce's penchant for twist endings, rather than the more naturalistic zero endings that Anton Chekhov pioneered, and others ran with. Still, the description that Bierce paints- of lives, deaths, moments, and battles, are rich, horrific, and vivid. His characters are usually merely servants to the overall narrative- another `throwback' trait of pre-modern fiction, but ask yourself- is there a character in all of Donald Barthelme's or Rick Moody's writing that is not cardboard? Bierce was simply not attempting great character portraits, in general, so to hold him up to that standard is not tenable. By every other measure, though, his tales could have been penned by a modern writer covering Vietnam or the two Iraq wars....The stories are first rate, and mustr reading fore anyone enamored of short stories, or those just interested in American history, or the Civil War. As for the man himself? In 1913, after a series of personal setbacks- deaths of sons and a divorce, he set out for Mexico to cover Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution. His last written words were: `Goodbye, if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think it a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico- ah, that is euthanasia!' It is fitting that such an enigmatic man and writer would leave such an epitaph, but that is not his legacy. These great stories are- read, learn, but most of all enjoy.

Great condition Fast professionaql packing AAAAAAA++++

Great book of Bierce's Civil War short stories. Relevant reading in this new age of war

Exceptionally Good Collection - Great Reading

Ambrose Bierce was not a likeable individual; he was often acerbic, sarcastic, and even mean spirited. Nonetheless, he created remarkably good short stories. This collection shares a common theme, the Civil War, but the individual stories belong to many different genre and will appeal to a wide audience. There is no need to be a Civil War enthusiast to enjoy this collection. Ambrose Bierce fought in several bloody battles in the west in the Civil War including Shiloh and Chickamauga, is credited with rescuing wounded comrades under fire, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The first story - What I Saw of Shiloh - is a 17-page fascinating, occasionally critical, first person account of his participation. The next story - Four Days in Dixie - is another first person account, but I simply do not know whether Bierce was being truthful or not. Whether the truth, an exaggeration, or perhaps a fabrication, Four Days in Dixie is entertaining reading. The remaining fourteen stories are clearly fiction and are characterized by unusual perspectives and unexpected endings. The tales of Ambrose Bierce not only make exciting, entertaining reading, but they are often thought provoking. The endings often come as a surprise, and leave the reader pondering the unusual outcome. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is a good example. This story spans several genre, is not easily classified, and has an unexpected ending. This remarkable story has been recreated as a screen play and may be familiar to many readers from black and white television reruns of the Twilight Zone series. This collection is uniformly good and warrants more than one reading. This Dover Thrift Edition is definitely a bargain.

Isn't it ironic

Bierce does an excellent job of presenting the darkest parts of the Civil War: loss, death, betrayal. His short stories are clever and often take unexpected twists. An engrossing read.

Wars Were Brutal Long Before TV Discovered Them

No matter what it is called, be it the Civil War, the War Between the States or the War of Southern Secession, the time period 1861-65 was one of the most bloody, destructive and emotionally and ideologically charged periods in U.S. history. And no contemporary author had a better grasp of it than Union comabt veteran Ambrose Bierce, whose stories in this short but riveting collection are not dry historical abstractions nor a cold analysis of the decisions of senior leaders, but a graphic record of the everday sweat, endless terror and cruel, surreal absurdity of armed conflict. From the eerie "Incident at the Owl Creek Bridge" to the gripping "Parker Adderson, Philosopher," Bierce honed the unique literary and expressive skills that served him well as a corrosive and controversial San Francisco newspaper columnist and astonishingly effective writer on horror and the occult. War to "Bitter Bierce" was the purest expression of the basic animal survival instinct; hardened and warped by endless fear, by the power of technological advances in weaponry and the stress and repeated brutality that turned ordinary human beings into ruthless killers--to the point where ideology and the color of the uniform no longer mattered. Bierce's experiences and deep cynicism soon led him to believe that human beings, despite all of their apparent gifts, in reality could do little more than create brutal and meaningless tragedies. "War is a byproduct of the arts of peace," he was reported to have said, but these stories, a product of a bygone era, remain curiously contemporary because they tell us about everyday people--not unlike ourselves despite more than a century of difference--who fought a war, that, in light of the issues it raised and the multiple cultural forces it unleashed or redirected, has never really ended.
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