Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews
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The Marchby E.L. Doctorow
The march of this novel is that of the the Union army of sixty thousand men led by General William Tecumseh Sherman through the Confederate south across Georgia and through the Carolinas. This campaign of pilllaging and bloody destruction ended with the surrender of Lee to Grant and of Johnston to Sherman. All of this fierce military action is largely background to evolving personal stories which include Sherman himself and several Union soldiers, both officers and men, Wrede Sartorius, a talented field surgeon, his two volunteer nurses, Emily Thompson, a well-born southern lady and Pearl a "white" house slave, Arly, a southerner posing as a photographer after having commandeered both the photographer's wagon and his assistant, Calvin. No list of characters adequately suggests the scope of this work. I found it beautifully conceived and written and deeply revealing of a particularly ugly part of the American Civil War.
Agincourtby Juliet Barker
For English/French history enthusiasts!!
This is the story of the battle at Agincourt at which the commanded by Henry V defeated a vastly superior French force. This victory asserted the English claim to the throne of France. The book is divided into three parts, the first being the preparation for the English invasion and campaign. The meticulous and thoughtful leadership of Henry in this preparation presages his qualities as a leader in battle and thereafter.
The period in France begins with the siege and the taking of the French port of Harfleur. The arduous march north toward Calais weakened and depleted the English army. When it finally engaged the French, it met a healthy force four or five times its size. How this army was victorious is the amazing stuff of the second and major part of the book.
Last comes the aftermath of the battle, the detailing of the terrible toll on both sides and in particular the decimation of the French aristocracy, the return to England of the exhausted army and a triumphant Henry. Finally the tale of short lived sovereignty of an English king of France.
An interesting footnote: The film, with Laurence Olivier , in part, an inspiring tale of English military valor at Agincourt in a slightly simplified version of Shakespeare's Henry V was made at the request of Winston Churchill (then P.M.) to rally the nation for D-Day landings in Normandy.