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Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391542
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


One of the Best Titles of 2013 by Bookpage

Wall Street Journal
“Engaging…. It's hard to believe that anything compelling about the Civil War remains unexplored, but the picaresque odyssey of these two plucky journalists turns out to be an intimate and absorbing social history of the rarely glimpsed backwoods of the great conflict….One of the great adventures of the Civil War.”

Boston Globe
“Peter Carlson weaves these and other research into a compelling, truly exciting tale. He finds humor in it, too, especially stories of grave journalistic crimes (entire battle scenes made up by reporters too drunk to witness the scene, for instance). The levity is more than balanced by the genuine menace the Yankees faced down South (in Atlanta, newspaper editorials urged they be lynched) and the deep humanity of those Union sympathizers, black and white, who helped them on their long, cold escape route. Plenty of nonfiction narratives claim to read like novels; this one actually does.”

James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“This absorbing story of two Northern war reporters who were captured by the Confederates at Vicksburg, imprisoned for nineteen months, and escaped two hundred miles to Union lines demonstrates that for the Civil War, truth is indeed more thrilling than fiction. The accounts of the essential help the escapees received from slaves and Southern white Unionists provides key insights on Southern society.”

David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of 'The Good Soldiers
“Peter Carlson is one of America's greatest storytellers, and this is his best story yet. Funny, thrilling, tragic, and impossible to put down, Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy is a beautifully written, wondrous book.”

David Von Drehle, author of Rise To Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year
“The amazing true story of Civil War journalists Albert Richardson and Junius Browne starts with the friends leaping from a burning barge into the Mississippi River and ends with a harrowing mid-winter passage through snowy mountains. In between lay endless months struggling to survive the hell of the Confederate prison system. This is history as it really happened, not the tidy school book version, and Peter Carlson tells it with the drive and verve of a truly gifted narrator.”

Kirkus Review
“A rollicking story of imprisonment and escape during the Civil War seems a stretch, but journalist Carlson accomplished a similar feat with a Soviet premier in K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist (2009), and this is another entertaining, occasionally gruesome account…. Carlson has taken full advantage of abundant material to deliver a vivid chronicle of two working Civil War reporters and their spectacular odyssey.”

Paul Hendrickson, author of Hemingway's Boat: Everything He loved in Life, And Lost, 1934-1961
“’Captivity dries up the heart,’ as Peter Carlson tell us in his grave, propulsive, heroic, and, not least, slyly comic tale of two old New York newspaper scribes who went deep into the Civil War--and lived to tell about it. This is a lost tale resurrected by a fine old newspaperman himself--and our hearts are better for it.”

Christopher Buckley, author of God is My Broker and Thank You for Smoking
“Another irresistible story, engagingly told, from the pen of irresistible and engaging storyteller Peter Carlson, about two jaunty Union reporters who undergo a harrowing 21 month-long ordeal as prisoners of the Confederacy and then escape. As with the best of non-fiction, it reads like a far-fetched novel.”

Publishers Weekly
“Civil War buffs and historians of journalism will revel in this thrilling tale of two raucous, self-described ‘knights of the quill.’”

ForeWord Magazine
“[A]thoroughly-researched page-turner…Carlson’s character development vividly transforms the nineteenth-century reporters into traveling companions who will engross readers with their tale of “A Thrilling Capture, a Long Confinement, and a Marvelous Escape,” as a Tribune headline described the adventure on February 8, 1865.”

Tony Horwitz, Washington Post
“Unspools like a buddy flick…Carlson’s story has so many twists, right up to the last page….But the exquisite plot is only one of the joys of reading this book….If there’s a flaw in this fine book, it’s that Carlson tells his story almost too well….[This is] a rollicking read.”

American History
“Thoroughly entertaining…Carlson, a former journalist, knows a good story when he finds one, and demonstrates a talent for ferreting out the odd detail and humanizing incident as he peers into some obscure corners of Civil War history. Aided in no small degree by the accounts his two principals left behind, Carlson weaves a suspenseful, fast-paced and sometimes wry tale, as full of incident and surprise as a novel.”

Associated Press
“Among the tens of thousands of books written about the American Civil War, there are dense histories of campaigns, profiles of leaders, compilations of battlefield photos or soldiers' letters home. Then, once in a while, you run across just a really good yarn....At the heart of this buddy story are two distinctive characters, close friends who sometimes infuriate and often help each other… Carlson's story portrays their relationship and the wild ride of their wartime with emotional depth and often with humor….[he] has produced a work that entertains as well as educates…and lets readers see the endlessly chronicled Civil War through a truly fresh lens.”

“Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy…possesses the juiciness of a beach read…. Carlson works with wonderful efficiency, describing the political and social environment both men faced but never losing sight of the story and its momentum. The writing is compact and vivid as readers are escorted to the hell both men endured.”

Asheville Scene
“Don’t come expecting a dry Civil War history lecture. A former Washington Post features writer, Carlson imbues historical record with humor and a great sense of character that plays the well-liked, adventurous Richardson off his class-conscious, persnickety counterpart Browne in a sort of Civil War “odd couple” dynamic.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers, Starred Review
“With eccentric and likeable characters…Carlson's history successfully masquerades as an entertaining adventure story…Adventure, suspense, and a dash of romance make for a highly readable--and absolutely true--Civil War story.”

Durham Herald Sun
“Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy would make a fantastic movie, too, but the tale is worth reading on the edge of your seat. A Civil War odyssey, indeed.”

Mountain Xpress
“Revisiting old territory with a new view of contemporaneous sources, [Carlson has] used Browne and Richardson’s story to open a window into how the Civil War ruptured the fabric of American politics and history, sparing almost no one, including a couple of brash young journalists.”

Idaho Statesman
“[Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy] is a story full of suspense, historical significance and intrigue. As the title suggests, it is an adventure in every sense of the word.”

Knoxville News Sentinel
“Peter Carlson’s Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey is a gloriously entertaining book that should be on the reading list of anyone curious about the underbelly of the Civil War... [This book is] the perfect antidote to the endless stream of scholarly Civil-War-sesquicentennial tomes about this or that battle or major general. It is a grand tale of adventure, full of heroes and villains and a window into a world of honor and hypocrisy long dead, yet still oddly relevant.”

About the Author

Peter Carlson is the author of K Blows Top, which has been optioned into a feature film. For many years, he was a reporter and columnist for the Washington Post. He has also written for Smithsonian magazine, American History, and the Huffington Post. He lives in Rockville, MD.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in war, or the Civil War, or war correspondents, or prisoners of war.
James R. Prescott
One other note that I did not realize until writing this review is the author also wrote the favorite book of my summer reading so far - K Blows His Top.
Mr. Carlson tells the story of two NY Tribune writers taken prisoner by the Confederacy and held captive until their escape.
Richard A. Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After looking at the cover, the description, and the initial reviews, I wasn't sure whether I should expect a book full of historic adventure stories directed at young people or a deeper look at the life and activities of two reporters during the Civil War.

I found that this book is equally suited for either task!

The stories are simple and easy to follow for a younger audience, but if you are looking, there is much more that can be gleaned. I particularly enjoyed the amount of detail that was found in the stories. Because of the authors skilled writing, these fun stories lend quite a bit of insight without the reader even trying to learn. This is truly the mark of a teacher!

This book is highly recommended for:
- Anyone with an interest in details surrounding the Civil war
- Anyone with an interest in war reporting and journalism
- Anyone who enjoys a well-told story

*This book was well formatted for my Gen4 Kindle and had a linked TOC*
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful By BuckyBadger on June 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why do these reviewers feel the need to summarize the entire book? Tell me if you liked it and why. If you can't tell us what we need to know in 200 words don't bother because no one reads your reviews. As Amazon suggests, "Aim for between 75 and 200 words".

I enjoyed the book because it was an interesting side of the Civil War that I had never heard before. It's a quick read for anyone with interest in the Civil War. It is not your Civil War epic but it is well told and keeps your interest on a subject not often told, life in the prison camps of the era.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James R. Prescott on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Kudos to Peter Carlson! After 150 years and the publication thousands of books focusing on Civil War battles, generals, and political leaders, Carlson wrote about a niche of the conflict in a new, interesting, and engaging way. I agree with others that the book has the feel of a novel because it really is hard to put down. Carlson makes a point of saying that this not a scholarly work and it isn't. But that doesn't mean that it is lightweight or poorly researched, because it's not.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in war, or the Civil War, or war correspondents, or prisoners of war. But what was most eye-opening to me was the assistance that main characters and their band of escapees received from slaves and from pro-Unionists -- southern opponents to the Confederacy.

The only other book I read about the Civil War this summer was Bruce Levine's academic history, The Fall of the House of Dixie. I think the two books work well together and recommend that they be read in tandem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. McCarthy on June 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book exemplifies the best kind of nonfiction--it's one of those rare books that has a great story and relatable characters at its core, but then as an added bonus, the pages are also bursting with fascinating stories, facts, and tidbits you'd never heard before, on a topic you thought you knew everything about, in this case the Civil War.

From the outset of the book, you're rooting for these guys. In the beginning, you're hoping these journalists come back with a good story for their newspapers, but by the end, you're just hoping they make it back alive. Junius is the studious, uptight one, maybe a little pretentious, but in an adorable way, at least as described by Peter Carlson. Albert is the gregarious smooth talker--we learn that we once talked President Lincoln into reinstating the press credentials of a fellow reporter who had been banished from the front lines by General Sherman. (The reporter had the audacity to accurately describe the battle Sherman had just lost; Sherman wanted the man tried for treason... one of the many fascinating stories the book gets into.)

It's about 1/3 of the way through the book where the book's momentum really gets going good, and the decision to read another chapter or get that much-needed half hour of sleep gets harder and harder. The time the pair spend in various prisons would be reminiscent of the book Unbroken were it not for the fact that the protagonists are spared much of the harshest treatment that the other soldiers receive; however, the book pulls no punches in describing these horrible conditions. Many side characters are introduced and it's through their stories that we learn of many of these atrocities.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick Laliberte on May 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
So here's the short version - this is a very good book and I highly recommend it. You don't need to be a Civil War buff to enjoy this book. It's a true story, not a fictionalized or "re-imagined" account. It doesn't need to be. This is a compelling story and it's easy to get immersed in the narrative.

If you need more information, Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy is the light-hearted title to this true story of two reporters who were captured by the Confederacy while trying to get to Vicksburg to cover the upcoming battle. They were held prisoner for twenty months experiencing the truly horrendous conditions of several Southern prisons before escaping and traveling on foot more than 300 miles to the safety of the Union lines.

This is history written for a general audience. Nothing is fictionalized according to the author. It's well researched and told with quotes from the individuals involved in the story liberally and seamlessly mixed into the narrative. According to the author all facts, quotes, and dialogue were taken from historical sources. The author, Peter Carlson, is a former reporter and columnist so his writing is accessible and entertaining. This book was an excellent read and I found it difficult to put down.

The first half of the book introduces Junius Browne and Albert Richardson. It sets the stage by following them through their early career and the events that led to the succession of the Southern States. It details their activities covering the war and their efforts to cover Grant's army as it moved to attack Vicksburg which led to their capture and imprisonment.

The second half of the book describes their imprisonment in some of the worst Civil War era prisons in the South for almost 2 years.
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