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The explosion and wreck of the Mississippi riverboat Sultana in 1865, which killed 1,700 passengers, mostly Union soldiers recently released from Confederate POW camps, is but the capstone of this engrossing survey of the many varieties of suffering in the Civil War. Journalist Huffman (Mississippi in Africa) doesn't even get aboard the Sultana until the last third of the saga. Before that, he fills in the backstories of four Yankee survivors as they fight in the battle of Chickamauga, go raiding with Sherman's cavalry and finally get captured and sent to the infamous Southern prison camps at Andersonville, Ga., and Cahaba, Ala. There they endure the torments of starvation, exposure, festering and maggoty wounds, predatory criminal gangs, lice and diarrhea—a scourge, Huffman notes, that was far deadlier to soldiers than bullets. Making skillful use of war diaries and memoirs, the author makes these quieter ordeals just as moving as the Sultana's doomed voyage, with its hellish scene[s] of hundreds of screaming people being burned alive or drowning each other in panic. Huffman fits the climactic disaster into a meticulously researched, harrowing look at the sorrow and the pity that was the Civil War. (Apr.)
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“Huffman succeeds in establishing the Sultana’s rightful place in Civil War historiography. Recommended.” (Library Journal)
Huffman rescues the Sultana tragedy from obscurity and brings the people and events surrounding it to vibrant life...[and] chronicles the explosion and its aftermath in startling detail with a wealth of striking images...A short but moving history that effectively captures both the disaster and the soldiers’ ordeal. (Kirkus Reviews)
Huffman's book on the tragic events leading up to and including the explosion of the Str. SULTANA is a thorough, but different take on the history of this terrible disaster. Read morePublished 3 months ago by ShawsParkTN
I read this book previously and liked, so decided to read it againPublished 5 months ago by Stephen E. Malmquist
A detailed retelling of the disaster starting with the Union soldiers who were captured in the southern battle grounds, then taken to the horrible prisoner of war camps of... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Zork3
It's pretty easy to dislike this book. It doesn't really starting talking about the actual disaster until about two-thirds of the way through. Read morePublished 11 months ago by C. P. Anderson
Not bad, worth reading. Good (rare) first - hand accounts of the event.Published 12 months ago by Grumpy