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Hardcover Confederates Book

ISBN: 0060122994

ISBN13: 9780060122997


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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Thomas Keneally's epic of the Civil War takes us into the lives of four remarkable characters in the embattled Virginia summer of 1862: a southern hospital matron who is also a Union spy, a British war journalist with access to both sides, and two foot soldiers under Stonewall Jackson.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Keneally at his best; the Civil War at its worst

This must be one of the best things Keneally has ever done and how it avoided winning the Booker is simply mesmerizing. This Australian author really has no right to go about writing on such a closely-studied and well-documented theme as the American Civil War and the various side issues that went along with it. I suppose that's why I stared at the spine of this book as it sat on a shelf in my library for year after year, without ever opening it. Yet it has proven one of the more delectable pieces of writing of the past ten years, the more so for being such an "unlikely find." Whatever possessed this Aussie to tackle such a subject and how did he settle on this method. For Keneally takes us on the road through Manassas and Bull Run and, as we know, onto Appotomax, although this particular narrative stops short of that final episode. He leads us through soldier's fields, some filled with the detritus of a southern army being overpowered only by a lack of resources, some filled with these same good folk, but now in the innumerable pieces that cannon and sustained breech-loading fire leave behind. He takes us in close to the generals, gives us some insight into the vast movements, both political and religious, that were swaying these mighty armies back and forth across the map of Old Virginny, and even shows us something of what the common soldiery were, perforce, leaving behind at home. It's an uncanny tale, cannily related by a gifted writer and storyteller at the top of his mark. If you can stomach some gruesome details along the way, you will not be one ounce disappointed by this book. It's masterful.

Keneally's CONFEDERATES: An out-of-print masterpiece

I'd intended to read this book for years (came across it in a book of good reading recommendations), but didn't start reading it till last week. It is a real page-turner, and not only held my attention as I read it but made the kiind of impact that led me, after I had finished the book, to brouse through it again.In my opinion, it is not only a major fictional recreation of a key stage in the U.S. Civil War (basically, the months that culminated in the battle known to the north as Antietam [the south as Sharpsburg, which is how it shows up in the endpaper maps], but one of the top ten war novels that I've read over the last 50-odd years. I'd rank Keneally's CONFEDERATES just below WAR AND PEACE and Crane's RED BADGE OF COURAGE, and somewhat above Hemingway and the few good World War II novels (Mailer, Waugh, and the forgotten Russian Stalin-era novel, Simonov's DAYS AND NIGHTS).The detail in the book, both of the feellings of soldiers in combat and of factual material (very good material on field surgery in the Confederacy - probably not hugely different than in the North, but the whole book is done, with a few exceptions, from the perspective of the "doomed cause" of the South) surpasses most of what I've read. The feel of the book (its literary quality) is interesting: it is gritty and realistic, but the rhythm and style sufficiently echoes nineteenth century writing at its best so that you really feel you are there, with men and women of that era.I have three suggestions:1. If you haven't read this book, get a copy and read it.2. If you read it years ago, read it again. I've noted in my calendar to read it again in a few years. Among other things, it adds to our insight, I think (as good books often do), on situations that we are trying to understand and deal with today.3. The publishers should bring this book back into print and movie producers (or TV) should give it serious consideration for a high-quality production.

#6 on my All-Time Top 10

Many Civil War novels convey the physical carnage of 19th century battle. But few transmit the moral horror of slavery and the war the way CONFEDERATES does. It seems to have taken an author from far-off Australia to get to the war's central fact: it was a battle for human liberation in which brave and devoted individual Confederates fought to preserve a horrendous system. In the course of the book, ten or so related characters endure the war's relentless meatgrinder from the Seven Days to Antietam, with few surviving in one piece. Most shocking and effective: the stories of the nurse who spies for the North, and the country boy who thinks he can't be killed. (The latter contains some truly bizarre supernatural elements which work perfectly to enhance the theme.) Lincoln's Second Inaugural says that only blood can expiate our nation's sin of slavery. CONFEDERATES shows that expiation playing out in individual lives. See also the same author's other masterpiece, SCHINDLER'S LIST.

A Civil War canvas to rival that of Tolstoy.

Unlike War and Peace, Confederates spurns all romanticism, employing instead the dignity of ordinary men and women and the mundane details of real life to convey the horrors of warfare with a realism perhaps unmatched in Civil War literature. With no comic relief, no hints at happy endings, and no escape from the inevitability of this nightmare, the cumulative effect of Keneally's novel is staggering.The Confederate army we meet here consists of ragged and hungry teachers, musicians, small farmers, orphaned children, men in their 60's, conscripts, and even the sorely ill and walking wounded, who share their stories and simple dreams as they trudge resignedly and painfully across Virginia toward their destiny-the Battle of Harper's Ferry/Antietam. Despite the tactical brilliance of General Tom "Stonewall" Jackson, the battle itself eventuates in the most horrific blood-letting and soul-wrenching trauma I've ever seen described. Homely details, described in a plain, almost offhanded manner, lend great irony and bring the enormity of the carnage into focus: split-rail fences with their "crops of dead," cornfields with human remnants "lying in heaps that must be climbed," young soldiers forced to tread on "a mat of Christian boys," and the very air above the cornfield "flying with bits of the corn crop and with limbs, naked and clothed, and with haversacks and heads and hands."I cannot imagine any Civil War novel which will affect the reader more profoundly than this one. Exhaustively researched, historically accurate, brilliantly depicted, and absolutely unforgettable, it pulses with the lives of our forebears and makes gratitude seem inadequate for their sacrifices.

A realistic, captivating look at Confederate Soldiers

This book seems to have been written with a lot of research. This book very much strikes you as realistic look at a band of friends in Lee's army. One can find himself believeing the story to be true. There are 3 stories here, those of a nurse in the Confederate army and her British lover, the story of Stonewall himself and his aides and peers, and of a handful of simple privates in Stonewall's command. All the stories are full and interesting and don't feel like they are too short or too long. They all describe life during the Civil War with much detail, and all seem lifelike. At times the book is sad, sometimes funny, and often greusome. It really captures the spirit of the rebel soldiers. The only problem with this book is one part where a very supernatural thing is witnessed by a soldier that involves cryogenic freezing of people and anual bringing back to life. It is very out of place and is never really resolved. None of the rest of the book has any magic or witchcraft, and this part seems like it was just thrown in for fun. That said, that part is rather interesting. All Civil War buffs like me should read it, and anyone can learn a great deal about the hardships and issues of the war.
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