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Memoranda During the War Paperback – February 1, 1990

4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"These 'impromptu jottings'--descriptions of soldiers' last breaths; their recoveries; their requests for toothbrushes, pickles, rice pudding, fresh underwear, a good book, a pen, an ice cream treat, a letter to be sent home--later became 'Memoranda During the War,' a slim volume that Whitman published in a private edition in 1876.... It now resurfaces--to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first edition of 'Leaves of Grass,' also reissued by Oxford University Press--in an authoritative version, thoughtfully annotated and introduced by Peter Coviello."--Los Angeles Times Book Review


"When Walt Whitman said that the real Civil War would never get into the books, he was wrong. It got into this one. Memoranda During the War is a brave and beautiful act of witness by America's greatest poet--and one of her greatest souls." --Roy Morris, Jr., author of The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War


"As Peter Coviello points out in his excellent introduction to this volume, Whitman came late to the scene of the Civil War, but, when he did so, he produced one of the few truly indispensable books about it. Memoranda During the War is written in prose that often compares well for beauty and intensity with the best poems in Leaves of Grass. It is easy to see why the book has served as a model for writers on the desolations of war from Stephen Crane to Hemingway to our own day." --Michael Moon, Johns Hopkins University


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author


Peter Coviello is Associate Professor of English at Bowdoin College and currently chair of the Program in Gay and Lesbian Studies. He is the author of Intimacy in America: Dreams of Affiliation in Antebellum Literature.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Applewood Books (February 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557091323
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557091321
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kenneth M. Goodman on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
How great that this amazing book was liberated from the dusty

shelves of the Library of Congress rare books collection.

In a weird way, it's sort of like Walt Whitman's "On The Road,"

except HIS On the Road was the Civil War. It's a touching, sad,

glorious & never boring book. Perhaps the most incredible thing about the prose is how "modern" it reads; and isn't it sad, about humanity in general, how Walt's accounts from 1862-1865 are still TOTALLY relevant today, in 2005; and will probably remain TOTALLY

relevant for as long as human beings occupy this blood-stained planet.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book while also reading "Don't Know Much About the Civil War" and Lincoln's letters and speeches. What a wonderful view into the century that gave rise to this great one. If you are planning to cover the civil war, or even the nineteenth century in America, this would be a central piece to help modern readers understand that time. Whitman's prose style is very modern.
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Format: Paperback
This collection of notes by Walt Whitman written during a period of time when Whitman was visiting war hospitals and camps is superb.
Whitman gives one a glimpse of the war that is photographic and poetic. Its attention to detail, and sympathetic approach must raise a lump in the throat of even the most hardend reader.
He shows you the places, the times and the players. He lets them speak their stories through his lines. Through sadness he exalts them.
This book should be a required reading for all highschool or college American History classes.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
This review is solely of the CD recording of "Drum-Taps and Memoranda during the War," read by Bronson Pinchot.

The text of "Memoranda" is that of Whitman's limited edition of 1875-76. This review has nothing to do with later editions or reprints or academic commentaries.

Some of us remember Bronson Pinchot from the 1980s when he played the goofy Balki in the TV sitcom "Perfect Strangers." All I can say is, what a transformation!

In the intervening years Pinchot has morphed into an absolutely brilliant reader of Walt Whitman's prose and poetry. Here he reads Whitman's words, written mostly during and shortly after the Civil War, with an expressiveness and authority that I've rarely heard on audio - and I've heard some excellent readers (some duds, too). As a native New Yorker whose grandparents were born while Whitman was still living, I can testify that Pinchot even has the old-time NYC *accent* down! A very brief recording exists of Whitman's own voice (we think) made by Edison about 1890, and Pinchot sounds like he recorded it himself.

Furthermore, the two books he reads here are fundamental literary documents of the Civil War. The "Memoranda" consist of notes Whitman made from time to time beginning after the battle of Fredericksburg in December, 1862, when he began to visit the sick and wounded in army hospitals in Washington. "Drum-Taps" is his well-known 1866 collection of poems inspired by the war. The suffering and stoicism of soldiers recorded in the "Memoranda" are often heart-breaking: Whitman in reality was one of the most compassionate men of letters America has ever produced, and Pinchot captures every nuance. You will not get a more concise and effective *emotional* sense of what the Civil War was like anywhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Walt Whitman, upon hearing the news of the wounding of his brother George at the battle of Fredericksburg , took off from New York City to find him on the battlefields of Virginia. After discovering him at a hospital, and spending time with his company, Whitman decided to live in Washington DC. His sojourn there, which last many years, is brilliantly recounted in the simple book "Memoranda During the War".

While working at the Patent Office during the war, Whitman volunteered much time caring and tending the wounded at the many Civil War hospitals that sprang up to take care of the men. Whitman would bring the men simple treats, such as fruit, or paper, or things to read, and spend hours tending to these brave men. This book is a recollection, however brief, of those times he spent caring for the men, including some important events of the time.

While people learn about the history of the Civil War by memorizing dates and places, they often miss the impact of the Civil War. Whitman's book brings the impact of this war into real contexts. Even he, in his writing, says that the true reality of this war may be unknowable to those who would never see it. Whitman attempts to correct this by telling stories of the wounded soldiers he tends; stories of battles; and a particularly gruesome story of a raid gone bad and its horrific consequences.

Whitman's prose is succinct and touching. The few soldier's lives he manages to capture on paper, some in just a few sentences, are compelling. Anyone wanting to understand this war certainly should spend an hour with Whitman as he describes his small part in this grand conflict, for with his words, comes a grander understanding of this war.
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