Christopher K. Coleman uses Ambrose Bierceâs few autobiographical writings about the war and a deep analysis of his fiction to help readers see and feel the muddy, bloody world threatening Bierce and his fellow Civil War soldiers. Across the Tennessee River from the battle of Shiloh, Bierce, who could only hear the battle in the darkness writes, âThe death-line was an arc of which the river was the chord.â Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife is a fascinating account of the movements of the Ninth Indiana Regimentâa unit that saw as much action as any through the warâand readers will come to know the men and leaders, the deaths and glories, of this group from its most insightful observer.
Using Bierceâs writings and a detectiveâs skill to provide a comprehensive view of Bierceâs wartime experience, Coleman creates a vivid portrait of a man and a war. Not simply a tale of one writerâs experience, this meticulously researched book traces the human costs of the Civil War. From small early skirmishes in western Virginia through the horrors of Shiloh to narrowly escaping death from a Confederate sniperâs bullet during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Bierce emerges as a writer forged in war, and Colemanâs gripping narrative is a genuine contriÂbution to our understanding of the Western Theater and the development of a protean writer.
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