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One thing—Worthy of the Pulitzer sometimes means: A Tad Overwrought and Could Use Editing At Points. Okay, there, I said it. This book definitely fits the bill.
But it's a brilliant book.
I bought "Andersonville" back when I was researching Civil War atrocities for a book, and holy cow! If Andersonville wasn't a horrorshow, a blight during an unholy time, I don't know what was. Kantor writes it with such savagery, and with such an eye for detail, you'll be haunted (Let yourself be haunted by some of the imagery. That's part of the treat of reading), and you'll be amazed by his skill. There is some truly unsparing prose here.
The whole book is deftly crafted, with memorable characters (and there are a lot of them; we're talking epic here) who are described with one-of-a-kind details that make you wrinkle your nose, but always, always make you tip your hat to the author. Besides which, 'taint all brutality...
While I found myself most definitely transported to the time, I'm neither a Civil War historian, nor am I even a Civil War buff extraordinaire, so I can't guarantee that all things run authentic to the period. I actually purchased this instead of delving into Shelby Foote's work. But I found it to be profoundly satisfying. Where else am I going to hear (glorified) slave chants? (And by the end, I was so fascinated, I purchased "This Republic of Suffering" because there were so many, too many things the book brought up that I just want to know!)
One problem I thought I'd have was with Grover Gardner. I respect the man, I really do. But as much as I enjoy WWII history (and, really: I AM a military history buff), if I ever need to sleep, all I have to do is listen to Grover Gardner start in with the Third Reich and I'm out like a light. But, I'm surprised to say that he shines in "Andersonville." He has just the right twang/nasal/country quality and carries off the accents well. Further, the energy he has during Hour One of his performance is the same as it is for Hour Ten, Hour Twenty, Hour Thirty.
This is a looooong book. And oddly enough, twitchy as I get, I didn't listen to it at x1.25 speed. It was fine as is.
You up for the long haul?
30 of 31 people found this review helpful
A great blend of history and narrative. A compelling story, even more heart-wrenching given that it's part of the fabric of our Nation's history. I cannot recommend Andersonville any more highly. A great volume. Thank you.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful