This book is inherently anti-war, en suite to Homer's second epic, The Odyssey, which tells how a soldier (victorious unlike his Civil War counterpart Inman) longs for peace and home after killing for nine years (The first epic, The Iliad). And to acknowledge another reviewer's unqualified remarks classifying the novel as anti-male, I'll expand this thought. I cannot understand how (in the CM scene, which echoes Odysseus' death by the hands of his son Telegonus) shooting a teenage boy would be a mark of manliness, as this review implies. Is it manly to kill? I can think of several famous female killers. That he doesn't kill the boy is consistent with Inman's disgust with senseless violence. A young boy is not a worthy opponent in Inman's estimation - again, a patently anti-war message. That the book is pro-women does not prove it must be anti-male, either. I am impressed that Frazier has successfully addressed the effects of war on the victims who suffer away from the battlefields, and I think this is why he focuses on Ada's life where she must learn to survive without a man because she will eventually lose hers (unlike her Ithacan counterpart Penelope, who ends up remarrying). This said, Cold Mountain is a worthy addition to any one's personal library. I carry graduate degrees in history, philosophy, and literature - and I cannot think of a better mix of these studies within any other book of American contemporary fiction.