Monday, May 07, 2007

#30 - The March by E.L. Doctorow

The March is a novel about General William Tecumseh Sherman's Civil War march from Atlanta to the sea, and then back through the Carolinas. Northern troops burned and pillaged cities and towns, burned and looted plantations, and plundered military installations on the way.

Doctorow's book depicts the affects of this march on Union troops, southerners who watched their towns burn down around them, and thousands of slaves. More than 25,000 slaves followed the Union Army on the march. Their fate hung in the balance as Sherman's troops marched through the south burning and looting everything in sight, in an attempt to force the south to surrender.

I enjoyed this book. It shows the stress of the march on Sherman, his officers and the troops. And it also realistically depicts the dangers involved, not only to troops on both sides, but civilians and freed slaves caught in the middle.

Sherman is concerned about the large number of slaves following the army. His troops can't feed and protect a group that large, and their fate is still in the balance. Sherman also struggles to keep his troops in line, as Union regiments fall victim to Confederate ambushes and civilian retribution. He doesn't want the army to turn into a frenzied, uncontrolled murdering mob.

If you enjoy Civil War history, then you will enjoy this book!

Other books by E.L. Doctorow include: The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, and City of God.

50 Book Challenge 2007: 10/50


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