Battle Flag Hardcover – Large Print, May 1995
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"A superb series." -- San Jose Mercury News
"Cornwell is more than a great storyteller.... An excellent history of the Civil War in the eastern theater." -- Flint Journal
"The best thing to hit Civil War fiction... one of the finest authors of military historical fiction today." -- Washington Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex and worked for the BBC for eleven years before meeting Judy, his American wife. Denied an American work permit he wrote a novel instead and has been writing ever since. He and Judy divide their time between Cape Cod and Charleston, South Carolina.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Another problem is that characters from previous books seem to wax and wane to the point of inconsistency. For example, Nate's archnemesis, Gen. Faulconer all but disappears from this book, as does Nate's Sgt. Harper substitute Sgt. Treadwell, not to mention any of the ladies who figured so prominently in the two previous books. Meanwhile, Nate's father gets a much more prominent role, and new characters are introduced, like the black servant Lucifer, and the nasty Billy Blythe, who is a virtual reincarnation of Sgt. Obediah Hakeswill from Cornwell's Sharpe series. One the whole Cornwell's writing is just a bit sloppier and more careless in this series. For example, in all three books he's had Starbuck spy a young soldier in battle reloading an unfired rifle and stop him, giving him a dead soldier's rifle instead. I mean... come on!
In any event, the series is far below Cornwell's Sharpe series, but I suppose I'll keep reading just to see if it improves.
The Starbuck books are good, and had anyone else's name appeared on the cover they might even qualify for an excellent rating. But they're not worthy of Bernard Cornwell. The problem really is Nate, the lead character. Or maybe it's with me and my dear old dad: neither of us can get a handle on him. Nate Starbuck's a ditherer who is also a fine leader. He's certainly confused morally. His position as a Northerner in the Southern armies wasn't all that unique as to raise as much rancour as it does...
Not the best book Cornwell's written, by a long chalk. There are only two bright spots: the battle scenes, which are vintage Cornwell; and I love the appearance of Sharpe's son. I'd love to know a lot more about his adventures!
No - give the American Civil War / Starbuck series the elbow, and write to Bernard Cornwell asking for more Sharpe.
Or pretend to yourself that someone else wrote the book... You'll enjoy it a lot more.
With respect to the latter, he makes several errors in _Battle Flag_. These seem not so much due to ignorance, carelessness, or convenience, as to a desire by Cornwell to re-characterize history to fit his own prejudices.
For example, he attributes to Jackson an active role in troop management during the battles at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas. The truth is quite the opposite; Jackson remained largely passive during both of those battles. That was one of his few notable weak points during the entire campaign.
Cornwell's treatment here is odd, in that he supposedly based the historical portions of this novel largely on John Hennessy's fine history, _Return to Bull Run_, which details Jackson's passivity during those battles at some length, calling his performance "mediocre".
If a bit of gratuitous generosity on Jackson's behalf can be excused, the unnecessary swipe Cornwell takes at Longstreet in the Historical Notes section is not so easily forgiven. Cornwell makes the statement that "Lee's victory might have been more complete had Longstreet attacked [sooner]." Hennessy explicitly expresses the opposite opinion: Longstreet and Lee independently choose the exact same moment for the attack, and it was at that precise moment when the Union forces were at their most vulnerable.
Cornwell is, in essence, another Jackson/Lee groupie who thinks all faults belong to Longstreet -- and he's willing to re-write history in order to advance his prejuduces. Stuff like that is fine for arguing about over beers, but it's dishonest.
Corwell's books are fun to read though.
I cannot rate this book without talking about the brilliance of the whole series. Cornwell takes you from your reading room, and teleports you back to a simpler time. And you find out that it's not so simple. Set against the backdrop of the Eastern Theatre in the American Civil War, he portrays the massive carnage and greatest bravery in minute detail. You actually hear the cannons, and smell the rotting flesh of the wounded. Yet, the main plot does not take place amongst the gunfire outside. But, rather, within. It is a story of a soul, and his struggle with God, man, who he is, and what he stands for. Amidst the shouting, crying, blasting, and dieing...is a poor heart, searching for peace. I found Cornwell's protrayal of Nate Starbuck to be no less than perfect. I found myself rooting, questioning, hoping, and praying for this fictional character. For, I saw myself in Nate. The same questions, fears, and desires. When done, I walked away from this story with a different outlook on life, liberty, and what's truly important. As will you.
Most recent customer reviews
This serise is the best thing to happen tocivil war fiction since "The Killer Angel's". Nate and his crew suffer much in this book, but in the end they come out on top... Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2002 by General Pete
Thoroughly enjoyable historical novel. Battle scenes are gripping and dialogue rings true. I've never read this genre before but I'm hooked now. Read morePublished on July 26 2001
BATTLE FLAG is not one of Cornwell's best efforts, it suffered from spotty dialogue and weak characterization. Read morePublished on June 18 1999