Synopses & Reviews
Alone among important American writers, Ambrose Bierce fought for four years in the Civil War. The writings he produced about that conflict comprise a body of work unique in our nation's literature. This volume gathers for the first time virtually everything Bierce wrote about the war, from letters composed on the field of battle to maps he drew as a topographical engineer, from his masterful short stories to his final bittersweet ruminations before he disappeared into Mexico in 1914.
The collection is organized chronologically, following Bierce's participation in a wide range of battles, from the early skirmishes in the West Virginia mountains to the bloodbaths at Shiloh and Chickamauga and his near fatal wounding at Kennesaw Mountain. His overlapping accounts of these events provide a clear and compelling record of the sights and sounds of the battlefield, the psychological traumas the war induced in its soldiers, and the memories that would haunt survivors for the rest of their lives. In prose that anticipates the work of Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien, Bierce's writings unflinchingly tell the truth about the war.
Writing in the 1880s and 1890s, at a time when both the North and South were erecting monuments to the heroes and glories of the war, Bierce insisted that his readers confront what really happened. Rather than celebrate causes and comrades, Bierce's fiction and memoirs describe the impossibly brutal realities of the Civil War battlefield.
The volume includes a biographical introduction and comprehensive notes on all the writings and is suitable for classroom adoption and general readers alike.