Ambrose Bierces Civil War
by Bierce, Ambrose
pub by Regnery Gateway Company, NY, 1956         reprint Wings Books div. of Random House, NJ, 1996     isbn 0-517-15013-1       _       introduction p. iii - xi - - - contents p. xiii - - total 258 pages.

Read the 9 page introduction by William McCann. It does a lot to understand this book and the life and works of Ambrose Bierce. He actively participated in the Civil War on the Union side. He also was a topographical specialist, doing surveying and making maps for active military activities. He also was involved with - skirmishers - those who were posted in front of the front lines. This book is a series of short stories. His stories often reflect his experience in the field. They are almost all very dark and often with a twist at the end like the writing style of OHenry. Except for the last story, this is a dark book. It describes the horrors of war as only a participant could write. The US Civil War is a particularly nasty war. Families often had members on both sides, who encountered one another as opponants, as is described in several of the stories. Given the way he lived his life after the War, Bierce would have been described as having PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.)
The final story in this collection is the only light one. The book ends with a giggle as a Union politician is made a general, and in spite of himself accidentally stops the advance of Confederate forces.
Read this book if you can stand the violence of the battlefield... from the perspective of those who were on the lines actually fighting. Read it to understand how things happened on the scale of the individual. Beware, it is often a downer.

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