Saturday, December 13, 2008

My first book review!

Hey all!

Time for my first book review! The book is "Human Interest Stories from Antietam," by the well-known Civil War guy Scott Mingus. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott at Fall In, and was thrilled to get a copy of this book!

Format first; it is a soft cover, fairly no frills collection of personal stories from the battle of Antietam. Small (albeit easy to read) text makes it a wee bit daunting at first glance, as it could look to be a touch dense, but after ohhhh, about a sentence you realize that the easy flow of the writing and incredibly personal nature of the stories will make this a good read:) The stories are anywhere from a short paragraph to three paragraphs long, so it is also an easy book to read in "chunks;" no having to devote an hour to "keeping up with the story" or anything.

Scott packed the book with all sorts of fantastic stories from the lead up to the battle, the battle itself, and the aftermath. They include stories about foraging parties gone awry (these guys foraged so much, when did they even find time to fight?!) near misses and bravery in the heat of combat, and a few of our most famous generals and even future presidents... who knew that Rutherford B. Hayes was such a total bullet-riddled badass?! Some of the foraging stories are, in particular, fascinating, not only because of what the men ate (who knew apple butter was so valued?) and how creative the men were when it came time to find some food, but also in that it really drives home how poorly fed the troops often were. The writing is clear and enjoyable, with just the right mix of somewhat sharp humor and an understanding of how horrible some of the stories do, indeed, turn out. The writing actually has a certain elegance to it that feels very period, but it is still very clear. Good stuff.

Animal lovers will enjoy that there are a number of anecdotes about adopted mascots for units... not counting, of course, the various pigs that made their way into the breakfast pans!

Anyway... a very enjoyable read, full of well researched personal stories of the thousands of faceless men who fought in the American Civil War. If I were to do book reviews on a regular basis, and were to grade books on a 5 point scale, I would give this one someplace between a 4 and a 4.5, with the only deductions really being for lack of beautiful color photos... which obviously was not its intended purpose. A GREAT Christmas book too, as it isn't too expensive... given the current economic times, this is something to consider.

Scott's books can be bought here, for a pretty good price if I do say so myself!

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