- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press (October 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781621901792
- ISBN-13: 978-1621901792
- ASIN: 1621901793
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife: The Civil War and the Emergence of an American Writer Hardcover – October 26, 2016
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Christopher K. Coleman uses Ambrose Bierce’s few autobiographical writings about the war and a deep analysis of his fiction to help readers see and feel the muddy, bloody world threatening Bierce and his fellow Civil War soldiers. Across the Tennessee River from the battle of Shiloh, Bierce, who could only hear the battle in the darkness writes, “The death-line was an arc of which the river was the chord.” Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife is a fascinating account of the movements of the Ninth Indiana Regiment—a unit that saw as much action as any through the war—and readers will come to know the men and leaders, the deaths and glories, of this group from its most insightful observer.
Using Bierce’s writings and a detective’s skill to provide a comprehensive view of Bierce’s wartime experience, Coleman creates a vivid portrait of a man and a war. Not simply a tale of one writer’s experience, this meticulously researched book traces the human costs of the Civil War. From small early skirmishes in western Virginia through the horrors of Shiloh to narrowly escaping death from a Confederate sniper’s bullet during the battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Bierce emerges as a writer forged in war, and Coleman’s gripping narrative is a genuine contribution to our understanding of the Western Theater and the development of a protean writer.
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Bierce entered the war as a very young man, possibly motivated by the idealism of his abolitionist relatives. His experiences in the war were very eventful and frequently harrowing. His unit, the Indiana "Bloody Ninth" thoroughly earned its nickname. The unit led charges in several battles -- Shiloh, Stones River, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain among others -- and suffered heavy casualties. It losses caused Bierce to rise in the ranks from private to brevet major during his four years in wartime uniform. Bierce was wounded twice, once severely. His serious head wound at Kennesaw Mountain led to an agonizing recovery. The wound may have changed his personality in the direction of the later "bitter Bierce." His later capture by rebel guerrillas almost cost him his life, but he was able to accomplish an arduous escape. Postwar, his work as a Treasury Department inspector in anarchic Alabama placed him under continual physical threat and exposed him to epic governmental corruption.
The history here is an engrossing narrative of a remarkable individual surviving many horrors of war. It is also the most thorough investigation of a formative period in the life of an important American writer who produced the best Civil War fiction. His many trying experiences gave him rich source material for his impressive Civil War stories.
This work is richly rewarding reading for anyone interested in the Civil War, its fiction, and the marvelous writer Ambrose Bierce.