978-0-06-093092-9 / 9780060930929

The Whirlwind of War: Voices of the Storm, 1861-1865


Publisher:Harper Perennial



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About the book:

The middle book in an anticipated trilogy, The Whirlwind of War is a unique study of the Civil War. Oates recounts the great struggle through a series of first-person monologues told in the voices of prominent figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, William Tecumseh Sherman, Mary Boykin Chestnut, Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick Douglass, John Wilkes Booth, and others. This original narrative technique brings a kind of freshness to an old and familiar story. It seems as if the characters speak directly to the reader; and Oates, an accomplished historian and biographer, is scrupulous about sticking as close to the historical record as he can. The book's one weakness is that it doesn't deliver a totally comprehensive telling of the Civil War despite its length of more than 700 pages. But the flip side is its strength: the way it helps readers understand the motives, perceptions, and behavior of the Civil War's most important actors. Sometimes it seems like there are too many books written on the Civil War. Oates nonetheless provides a welcome contribution to the field. --John Miller

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