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Shadows of Blue & Gray : The Civil War Writings of Ambrose Bierce Hardcover – March 6, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates; First Edition edition (March 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302441
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomsen is also the editor of Shadows of Blue & Gray: The Civil War Writings of Ambrose Bierce, which collects 27 stories along with some memoirs and reportage by the journalist, writer, literary critic and former Union Army soldier. Famous for their unflinching look at the brutality of the war, the pieces include "Two Military Executions," about the execution and revenge of a young soldier sentenced to death for striking an officer; "Bivouac of the Dead," the classic plea for the recognition of unknown Confederate soldiers in a West Virginia hillside; and "Four Days in Dixie," Bierce's account of his own imprisonment and escape from Confederates in Alabama.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In calling Stephen Crane and Walt Whitman our poets of the American Civil War, we unfairly neglect the Ohio-born Bierce, who, unlike the first two authors, actually fought for the Union army, at Chicamauga, Missionary Ridge, Bloody Shiloh, and elsewhere. If the average reader is at all aware of Bierce, it is probably from a few choice definitions from The Devil's Dictionary, the phantasmagoric story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," and the author's mysterious disappearance in Mexico in 1913. However, Bierce, whose nastiness toward contemporary writers and critics came home to roost when his own reputation had to be decided, deserves to be better known. His war experience gives the 27 brief war stories in Shadows of Blue & Gray the ring of authenticity. In a sometimes turgid writing style (slaves are once described, for example, as "sons and daughters of Ham"), Bierce depicts a war that is at once horrifying, pointless, and supernatural the stuff of The Twilight Zone. The nine pieces in "Memoirs and Chronicles" and "Reminiscence and Memoria," with which editor Thomsen fittingly rounds out this volume, are as artful as the fictions. Recommended for all libraries. Despite the strengths of Thomsen's collection, Phantoms of a Blood-Stained Period is a superior work, for it includes not only all of Bierce's short fiction and nonfiction about the Civil War but a detailed 25-page introduction that is invaluable in placing Bierce in historical context and thus helping to explain his stance as a realist about the war and a satirist about post-Civil War American self-congratulation and heroic myth-making. Duncan (American history, Univ. of Copenhagen) and Klooster (English, Hope Coll.) wisely organize Bierce's myriad stories, memoirs, letters, newspaper columns, and even war poems around the war's five-year duration. Instead of a curmudgeon who happened to write war stories, this volume portrays a man who joined the Union army at age 20, fought in the bloodiest battles until a Confederate bullet in the head took him out of combat, and revisited the battlefields and retrieved the experience in memory until his disappearance. Highly recommended for all libraries. Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Ambrose Bierce would have been a good screenwriter because he has plot twists in almost every story.
Katie Fossett
There is humor here as well - Bierce's wit was an acerbic sword, and he unsheathed it on the high and low alike, without sparing himself in the process.
Larry L. Looney
The book was fascinating, especially since you we're getting a view of the war from a very participatory perspective.
Eileen H.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on May 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to look back and view wars as things of glory - the history books tend to lead us in that direction by viewing the action from lofty heights, speaking in terms of armies and strategies and generals. The reality - as those who have `been there' know too well (and no, I'm not claiming to be a veteran) - is that the old adage is all too true: war is definitely hell, and we should never, ever forget that fact.
Ambrose Bierce is known today mainly through his fiction - many fine examples of which appear in this collection - and through THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY. He `might or might not' be the subject and/or inspiration for Carlos Fuentes' novel THE OLD GRINGO, also made into a film. His stories have a decidedly `creepy' feel to them - he was no Edgar Allan Poe, perhaps, but he was a talented writer nonetheless...and as not only the short stories, but also the non-fiction pieces collected here demonstrate, he was a careful and articulate observer. We are truly blessed that he chose to recount what he had seen, both in the form of short stories and memoirs. His disappearance in 1914 in Mexico has added to his mystique over the ensuing years.
The most famous of the short stories contained in this volume is undoubtedly `An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'. I remember reading it in high school (NO, I won't say how long ago that was...) - and it was filmed to great effect by director Roberto Enrico in 1962, and was subsequently aired in the US as an episode in the last season of THE TWILGHT ZONE on CBS. It won an Oscar in 1964 as Best Foreign Short Film. The story is a masterpiece of suspense - it's a great literary epitaph for Bierce.
Bierce served in the Civil War - he enlisted at its outset and saw quite a bit of action.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Indiana Lee on May 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ambrose Bierce participated in many of the great Civil War battles. While I realise this book is written as fiction I would submit to the reader that it is fact. Ambrose has this gifted way of speach that brings to life the horrors he witness. You will shiver with goose bumps! You won't sleep with the lights out after reading his stories. No way!
I could not put this chilling book down. It was as if it was possess! Ambrose disappeared in 1914 a old man who walked into Mexico. Maybe he is still walking and telling these stories. I would like to think so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory J. Baumbach on June 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read some three hundred books and reference books on the Civil War, but Ambrose Bierce's works always fascinated me for their gritty, and almost mystic qualities! The problem was, I only read about a half dozen of his works, mostly in summary books of several Civil War authors and stories. What this book presents is the complete works of Bierce, taken from his initial publication in 1909, but lost shortly afterward due to critical reviews by other writers who disdained his style. So if you haven't read this book, you've hardly touched the works of the actual Civil War Union soldier, who fought in the Western Theater of the War, and related how it looked to him, how it felt to him, and areas of supernatural thoughts that came to him over the tragedy of what he experienced!

Most of the works concern the Civil War, but some are from time periods afterward, and they all evoke the style that made his works so different than most other authors of the time! This is not a reference book by any means, but more like a diary of a highly influenced young soldier during the most trying period of his life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katie Fossett on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is great if you like short stories and the civil war. However, don't read this if you want an all military perspective. Ambrose Bierce would have been a good screenwriter because he has plot twists in almost every story.
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