Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Stillness at Appomattox - Bruce Catton

A masterpiece of narrative history, Bruce Catton's third installment of his Army of the Potomac trilogy covers the final year campaign of US Grant's push to finally defeat Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederacy itself. Catton's prose sparkles. Whether he is recounting Washington high society, the tangled Battle of the Wilderness, or the horrible farce that was the Battle of the Crater, he brings the reader back, now more than 150 years to what Shelby Foote has called the crucible of the American experience. Sadly, narrative history and rigorous academic history have largely parted ways since Catton's time. While this may have saved readers a good-many insufferable bores, if it has also robbed us of history of this caliber, then we are the worse for it. Under Catton's pen the history of the Civil War sparkles and its immediacy lives on.