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Whittled Away Kindle Edition
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DISCLAIMER: Phil’s one of my critique partners in the small town we both live in, so naturally I’d be reading his books.
Phil’s put a lot of research and accurate detail into his one, which is a little too much for me, but not for his target audience. If you like military history (and lots of it), and especially if you’re interested in Confederate soldiers’ experiences, this is your book.
Whittled Away is about the decimation through war of the Alamo Rifles Company K of the Sixth Texas Infantry regiment as they experience the Civil War from the Confederate side (obviously). There is a reason he named it Whittled Away. Harrowing at times, at other times humorous, enlightening, horrific, Phil takes two fictitious friends through the hell of war, prisoner of war camp, triumph and defeat.
I’ll be reading it again someday, especially if I need inspiration writing about war, battles, and soldiers.
This is a politically incorrect story, set in a politically incorrect time, using a style of dialogue that was prevalent during that time, which gives it a realism that few modern authors are willing to achieve. The fact that the soldiers find themselves dodging self-serving, unethical sergeants while trying to do their assigned duties endears the book to this former airman and private. The gritty description of the horrors of battle, the precise methods in which certain artillery pieces obliterate flesh and bone, the odd chance of obtaining justice from a wrong committed hundreds of miles away and months before, and the heroism performed by young men who were just doing their job, resonates and shows the typical Confederate soldier to be just what he was: a young man far from home, doing his duty as he understood God wanted him to do. This could have just as easily been about Audie Murphy, if he had served in the War Between the States.
Equally realistic are the narratives of life in camp: soldiers receiving their ration of meat, with some opting to cook it if they had the chance, while others put it in their haversacks for cooking later, while others ate the meat raw, lest it become rancid before it could be cooked. This was a common dilemma WHEN a soldier got his hands on meat. The descriptions of hard crackers (aka "hardtack") and the various styles of making do with some grease and corn meal place the reader in a cold, wet Confederate camp.
In short, "Whittled Away" is a very well-written and researched book, typos notwithstanding (and there were not that many). I highly recommend it for the reenactor who wants to get a feel for how his uniform appearance should be, the proud Confederate descendant or history student who wants to see how that war was fought at ground level, and especially the liberal history revisionist who needs a dose of reality on what the war was REALLY about!
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6th Texas Infantry "Alamo Rifles."Read more