This is one of the most remarkable books that you will ever experience. It has a reputation as a "tough read," but the effort is more than worth it. You will come to KNOW these characters. The ambience of the story is as superbly rendered as the characterizations, and the "you are there" texture of the book is felt with intensity. There are no quotation marks in the speech, so sometimes it's difficult to tell if the character is talking or if it's internalization. Remarkably, this adds to the power of the book. As a reviewer noted earlier, there's a dream-like quality to the prose that would have been diminished by adding quotes. The author breaks some rules by changing point-of-view, tense, and person, yet it all works so well that it does not detract in any way. You may find yourself drifting away at times; not out of boredom, but because Kantor makes you think about what you've just read. If you have ever lost a friend or family member in a war this story will be painful. It is emotionally charged (excuse the cliche) to the highest possible point. I agree with most readers that "Gone With The Wind" and "The Killer Angels" and "Cold Mountain" are five-star novels, but "Andersonville" is on another level. Thirty stars, perhaps. You'll nevr forget Ira and Lucy and the men (and women) of "Andersonville."