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I have listened to this book three times now. It is an amazing look into the the story of a soldier who fought in many important battles of the Civil War. But apart from history it tells the human side of war and although Watkins tells of horror and suffering he also fills the narrative with clever anecdotes and odd situations of the people he served with. There is much opinion of the abilities of the various leaders he served under. The story is filled with colloquilisms from the Civil War which I enjoyed. The narrator of this version, although not having a Southern accent, did a fantastic job as well.
This is one of the best narratives of a Civil War soldier (cited extensively by Ken Burns' documentary by the way) and it is a must have.
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If you excised every passage when Watkins provides his disclaimer that he is "just a private soldier" and that he is not giving a full history of any particular event, but rather his memories of his personal experience, the book would be a quarter its actual length. A good first-had recounting of the Confederate experience, but in my opinion, Barry Benson's Civil War Book does a much better job and is much more engaging (also, without the constant pace killers of disclaiming that he is just a private soldier and that his view is not representative). Additionally, Benson has the advantage that he kept some form of a diary during the experience, which Watkins seems to base his recollections exclusively upon memory. The result, for Watkins, is a deficit of detail and a blending of events. The Watkins book is a very interesting historical artifact, but if you want a single example of a Confederate war memoir, your time is better spent with Benson.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful