Archive | February, 2012

Book Review: “A Stillness at Appomatox” by Bruce Catton

10 Feb

This civil war history, published in 1953, was the final book of a trilogy, and for which Mr. Catton won a Pulitzer and a National Book Award. The accolades are what drew me…I simply wanted to see how a book which garnered the most prestigious recognitions would begin. What opening words would the author choose? So I opened the book and before I knew it I was on page 27, mired in the final year of the war when the might of economic strength and sheer numbers of soldiers were with the north. I “watched” as Grant threw his men into one devastating battle after another but, like an arm wrestler, began to bend back Lee, whose armies could not stand the losses being inflicted on them.
And it occurred to me that great books swallow you whole, take you so deeply so quickly into the story that, before you know it, the words compell you to go on. Whether fiction or non-, it’s the writing that counts. If you are a civil war scholar, please forgive my ignorance of Mr Catton and his work. He is no doubt known to you. My suggestion is to the writer who wants to take in yet another great example of solid, majestic English prose, read “A Stillness at Appomatox”.