The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters: white and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners. At the center is General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental surgeon, Colonel Sartorius; Emily Thompson, the dispossessed daughter of a Southern judge; and Arly and Will, two misfit soldiers.
Almost hypnotic in its narrative drive, The March stunningly renders the countless lives swept up in the violence of a country at war with itself. The great march in E.L. Doctorow's hands becomes something more, a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.
Enjoy The March? Listen to an interview with E.L. Doctorow on The Bob Edwards Show.
©2005 E.L. Doctorow; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"In this powerful novel, Doctorow gets deep inside the pillage, cruelty and destruction, as well as the care and burgeoning love that sprung up in their wake....On reaching the novel's last pages, the reader feels wonder that this nation was ever able to heal after so brutal, and personal, a conflict." (Publishers Weekly)
This audiobook is simply amazing in its ability to bring history to vivid, compelling life. The narrators do an excellent job, and the writing is Doctorow's best since Ragtime. I highly recommend this audiobook.
Positive features: A gripping description of how war affected individuals.
Negative: Feeble attempt to blend fictional characters with historic events. I've read better.
Not unentertaining; mostly average.
This is a very good book but it is long and I am exhausted after marching, burning, and plundering across the South; I am ready to end the war as soon as possible but the characters are fascinating and they are hard to let go.
The reviews on this book have been very good and emphasize the civil war/Sherman context, which I found lacking. The book was an interesting enough listen but no more. The book uses the civil war as a mere backdrop, the March of Sherman is no more than a basic connection between stories and the characters are not terribly compelling. Some of them seem to be more of a reason to flash between stories as opposed to a real character in and of themselves The narrative flows well enough but its not terribly engrossing. If I had gotten this book in print version, I would not have finished it. As an audio book, it is good enough but not great.
I haven't enjoyed a Doctorow novel this much since I first read Ragtime. The structure is similar: the story is told from the points of view of a diverse group of characters who have one thing in common, their participation--willing or unwilling--in events surrounding Sherman's march. The characterizations were fascinating. Someone mentioned his atittude towards Sherman was hostile, but I didn't read it that way. In fact, he tempered it with Sherman's sadness about his son's death and his subsequent sympathy for other children and for parents who have also lost children. And he seems to have a moment of insight when he meets Johnston near the end of the novel. I loved Pearl and Stephen Walsh, Calvin, Sartoris, Arly--all of whose lives had been changed forever by the experience of war--some for the better, others much worse. A solid and engaging work.
Doctorow is a wonderful story teller. The paths of the characters flow, and his language is very satisfying. One of my favorite purchases so far.
I agree with another reviewer that although the book is pretty good entertainment as a listen, I could never have gotten through it as a read. I found the historical aspects interesting, but the characters and plot line were not compelling. It reminded me a little of a made-for-TV miniseries.
I scoff up every historical novel about the civil war I can get my hands on, but this is the absolute creme of the crop. It's about the civil war, but its more about the people who fought it, from the drummer boy up to the generals. Don't miss this one. It is a wonderful experience.
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