WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
WINNER OF THE PEN/FAULKNER AWARD
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In 1864, Union general William Tecumseh Sherman marched his sixty thousand troops through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces, demolished cities, and accumulated a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the dispossessed and the triumphant. In E. L. Doctorow’s hands the great march becomes a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.
Sherman's march through Georgia and the Carolinas produced hundreds of thousands of deaths and untold collateral damage. In this powerful novel, Doctorow gets deep inside the pillage, cruelty and destruction as well as the care and burgeoning love that sprung up in their wake. William Tecumseh Sherman ("Uncle Billy" to his troops) is depicted as a man of complex moods and varying abilities, whose need for glory sometimes obscures his military acumen. Most of the many characters are equally well-drawn and psychologically deep, but the two most engaging are Pearl, a plantation owner's despised daughter who is passing as a drummer boy, and Arly, a cocksure Reb soldier whose belief that God dictates the events in his life is combined with the cunning of a wily opportunist. Their lives provide irony, humor and strange coincidences. Though his lyrical prose sometimes shades into sentimentality when it strays from what people are feeling or saying, Doctorow's gift for getting into the heads of a remarkable variety of characters, famous or ordinary, make this a kind of grim Civil War Canterbury Tales. On reaching the novel's last pages, the reader feels wonder that this nation was ever able to heal after so brutal, and personal, a conflict. 7-city author tour.
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What it May Have Been Like On Sherman’s March
Historical fiction always makes me wonder how close the personal experiences were to the author’s portrayal. E.L. Doctorow’s ‘The March’ seems so realistic and engaging in his characterization of the emotional turmoil throughout, I often felt I was there, as a ragged ‘reb’ with no shoes or a recently freed ‘darkie’ wondering what to do, where to go, or a surgeon’s assistant watching arms and legs flying out of tents. Doctorow’s writing helped me imagine the unimaginable fears and horror that those on all sides went through. The more I read of various accounts (including Jeff and Michael Shaara’s) the more clearly I understand that our civil war is still not over- the gut wrenching wounds have yet to heal- and it is well worth our study!