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The Sacrificial Years: A Chronicle of Walt Whitman's Experiences in the Civil War Hardcover – Mar 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Hushion House (March 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567920799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567920796
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 562 g
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Product Description

From Booklist

Walt Whitman served as a volunteer nurse in Civil War hospitals from 1862 through 1865. He recorded his experiences in hundreds of letters and "memoranda" describing the suffering and heroism of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Although some of this material has been previously published, it has never before appeared in the chronological sequence of the events described, thus producing the effect of a diary--something Whitman didn't keep (but wished he had) during the war years. Accompanying the text are a series of 50 painstakingly reproduced period photographs capturing both the field hospitals where Whitman worked and the war leaders (Lincoln, Grant, Lee) he discusses. The vividly written text reflects the author's reverence for the details of life (and death) in the hospitals. Whitman's grasp of specifics is reminiscent of Hemingway's similar approach to documenting the physical sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefield. There is much here of interest to both Civil War buffs and students of Whitman. Bill Ott

From Kirkus Reviews

The sight of defeated soldiers returning from battle is one America hasnt seen on its own turf since the Civil War. Its a sight that was vividly recorded by Walt Whitman, whose letters, newspaper articles, and other writings from the war are collected here chronologically for the first time. His descriptions are immediate and chilling. Here are soldiers in the wake of the first battle of Bull Run: During the forenoon Washington gets all over motley with these defeated soldiersqueer-looking objects, strange eyes and faces, drenchd (the steady rain drizzles on all day) and fearfully worn, hungry, haggard, blisterd in the feet. So compelled was he by the sight of wounded and dying soldiers that he volunteered as a nurse to attempt to relieve their suffering. Editor McElroy, professor emeritus of American literature at the University of Arizona, gathers here Whitmans dispatches from his years of service, 186166. The great poets admiration for those who have seen battle will resound today, when we are re- learning respect for the silent heroism of American GIs: There is something majestic about a man who has borne his part in battles, especially if he is very quiet regarding it when you desire him to unbosom. I am continually lost at the absence of blowing and blowers among the old-young American militaires. (16 pages b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa70d75e8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa70a23e4) out of 5 stars Not the best editing of Whitman's Journals Feb. 16 2006
By Herschel Greenberg - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Walt Whitman wrote many journals, letters and diaries during his years volunteering at the hospitals in Washington DC. There are many books out there which claim to combine all those elements into one book. This book does an OK job of combining everything. The editor organizes the book by Month, which makes referencing easy. However, the editor chose not to include the original date the piece was written. Whitman dated almost everything, but this editor took those out in favor or numbering in passage in sequence. If you want to know WHEN a passage was written, you will need to find it in another book. In addition, the editor removed the context for each piece. For example, some passages are letters to his mother or an article for the newspapers in New York. Because this information is removed, and because each passage has text removed in order to make each passage short, this book lacks some of the important detials needed to see the big picture of Whitman's life. I am currently studying Whitman during the Civil War, and although I have used this book as reference, I have needed to go to other books to find out when and where each passage was written. This is a good starting point for someone who wants to quickly glance at Whitman's experiences, but I would also recommend Walt Whitman's Civil War, edited by Lowenfals and The Better Angel, by Roy Morris Jr.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa70d4540) out of 5 stars A Special Vision of War June 10 2011
By John F Walker Jr - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Fabulous. This book collects Whitman's diary entries during the years he spent as part-time federal clerk and 'hospital visitor' in Washington hospitals during and after the Civil War. As a war vet, I have never seen such beautiful and balanced writing about the experience of being in and around a war zone. Whitman also shares his observations of Washington (under construction) and New York (oblivious), as well as of Abe Lincoln as he passed back and forth every day from the White House to his sleeping quarters in the Soldiers Home. A vivid, moving, birds eye view, written by one of the most sensitive writers in our history.