This is one of those books you just have to say "well written, but..." about. A warning: Doctorow doesn't use quotation marks, and he writes in run-on sentences regularly. The first sentence takes up almost the entire first page. He employed the style well, but as a reader, I still miss punctuation. Other than that, the book is well written, but really brings nothing new to the Civil War genre. The real star of this story is Sherman's march, not the individual characters (there are so many narrators you may find you have a hard time sorting them out). So don't plan to get too attached. I'd recommend this to someone with a particularly strong interest in historical fiction about the Civil War.
"In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops est through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched.
The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters - white and black; men, women, and children; unionists and rebels; generals and privates; freed slaves and slave owners. At the center are General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental surgeon, Colonel Sartorius; Emily Thompson. the dispossessed daughter of a Southern judge; and Arly and Will, two misfit soldiers.
Almost hypnotic in its narrative drive, The March stunningly renders the countelss lives swept up in the violence of a country at war with itself. The great march in E.L. Doctorow's hands becomes something more - a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times." (jacket copy)
This is the first of Doctorow's books I've read. I understand he specializes in bringing order out of chaos. He did a very good job of painting a verbal picture ofthe miasmic horde marching through the south.
Great historical fiction about General Sherman's March through the South at the end of the Civil War.