Undoubtedly Bruce Catton's most brilliant book, A Stillness at Appomattox won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in nonfiction. Catton, our foremost Civil War historian, recounts the most spectacular conflicts between Grant and Lee and details the end of hope for the Confederacy. Utilizing various collections of unpublished letters written by soldiers, personal diaries of spouses and relatives, memoirs of soldiers and their families, and official war records, Catton follows Grant's campaigns from early 1864 to the end of the war, detailing many crucial battles along the way.
©1953 Bruce Catton (P)2014 Tantor
Having not read the book in some 30+ years, I'd forgotten how smoothly the narrative runs. Mr. Kramer's reading was effortless! Listening to this tome was a pure joy. This must be at least the fourth time that I've read the book and new details leap out in the audio version. For those who haven't had the pleasure, the book reads like a good novel making one wonder how the Union managed to actually win the Civil War.
Catton manages to make all the participants human, warts and all. Many of Grant's mistakes are glossed over, particularly at Cold Harbor. Yet the overall circumstances of the dysfunctional command of the Army of the Potomac leaves one wondering how it lasted long enough for Grant to take overall command of all the Union Armies. Most people forget that Meade retained command of the Army of the Potomac and that Grant was in overall command of all Union Armies. Grant was coordinating the Armies of the James, the Potomac, the Shenandoah, the Tennessee, as well as Sherman's army moving through SC and NC. The political situation of 1864 cost the Union in thousands of dead and wounded due to the inability of Grant to relieve incompetent army and corps commanders.
The bravery and steadfastness of the common soldiers of both sides were incredible. It was only that bravery of the Union regiments that saved the Union in spite of their general officers. The common soldiers of both sides had more in common than they differed and it was that commonality that allowed the nation to eventually heal after Appomattox.
This is a must a listen for any student of the Civil War. It's only a shame that the 2 prequels are available!!
This is a classic, the story of Grant's command of the Union Army from the battle of the Wilderness to Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Catton's command of the language combined with his knowledge of history combine for a very enjoyable book, wonderfully narrated by Michael Kramer the book takes on even greater dimensions. If you enjoy history you will enjoy this book.
Great book, lots of interesting detail of the war after the Battle of Gettysburg. I like that it incorporated excerpts from letters written home by soldiers to help tell the story.
The narrator is dry and at first sounds bored, or maybe like someone is forcing him to read this book against his will. About a third of the way into the book I got used to it...but I almost stopped listening before that. Fortunately the story kept me interested, and I'm glad I finished it.
High school history and psychology teacher and coach
A Stillness at Appomattox is a really nice history of the last part of the ACW, as told from a more "boots-on-the-ground" perspective than a political one. But it's the third in a series of three; where are Mr. Lincoln's Army and Glory Road?
I will probably look into the Centennial History trilogy - which is available in its entirety - instead and hope it's similar. For "macro" history, McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom (available in two volumes totaling some forty hours) seems to be the gold standard and I can't imagine needing another audiobook like it.
The narration is fabulous. The research that has gone into this book is impressive. It has left me with a profound respect for men who gave their all for the freedoms I enjoy.
Truly a masterpiece. I have read or listened to a dozen civil war books and this may have been the best. It held my interest beyond my expectations.
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