Albert Richardson and Junius Browne, two correspondents for the New York Tribune, were captured at the Battle of Vicksburg and spent 20 months in horrific Confederate prisons before escaping and making their way to Union territory. Their amazing, long-forgotten odyssey is one of the great escape stories in American history, packed with drama, courage, horrors and heroics, plus many moments of antic comedy. They must endure the Confederacy's most notorious prison; rely on forged passes and the secret signals of a covert pro-Union organization in North Carolina; trust a legendary guerilla leader; be hidden by slaves during the day in plantation slave quarters; and ultimately depend on a mysterious, anonymous woman on a white horse to guide them to safety. They traveled for 340 miles, most of it on foot, much of it through snow, in 26 days.
This is a marvelous, surreal voyage through the cold mountains, dark prisons, and mysterious bands of misfits living in the shadows of the Civil War.
©2013 Peter Carlson. Recorded by arrangement with PublicAffairs TM, a member of the Perseus Book Group. (P)2013 HighBridge Company.
"This absorbing story of two Northern war reporters who were captured by the Confederates at Vicksburg, imprisoned for 19 months, and escaped 200 miles to Union lines demonstrates that for the Civil War, truth is indeed more thrilling than fiction." (James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom)
"Peter Carlson is one of America's greatest storytellers, and this is his best story yet. Funny, thrilling, tragic, and impossible to put down.... [A] beautifully written, wondrous book." (David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Good Soldiers)
"A rollicking story of imprisonment and escape... Carlson has taken full advantage of abundant material to deliver a vivid chronicle of two working Civil War reporters and their spectacular odyssey." (Kirkus)
First let me say that Peter Carlson wrote one of my 3 most favorite audiobooks ever in K Blows Top, if you liked this book you should LOVE that one.
For this book I have mixed feelings. I've legit read well over 100 books on the Civil War at this point from every perspective. This book is certaining entertaining and it brings a point of view to events, but the problem is with the source material. Both "reporters" would in no way be considered reporters by todays standards, and thats with the joke of the media we have. Instead Junius and Albert were propaganda writers that every once in a while would sneak in some facts. When you read their material the only thing I take at face value (most of the time) is that they were at the location they said they were at on the day they said they were - beyond that you must take everything with a grain of salt.
Also the book is incomplete on setting the stage for the events. I think the author does a decent job of trying to work in some facts so you can place the events in perspective, but the authors main job is to move the story along and stopping it to explain what something happen might have slowed everything down.
For example one of the reasons that the southern prisons were in such bad shape was that in some locations there were inadequate food supplies - the author notes this but I'm not sure that point really comes across. While the south actually had more than enough food as a whole, the problem was the complete destruction of the transportation system in the south which left parts of the south with an overabundance of food and materials while other parts were legitimately starving. The second point that is underplayed in this book was Lincoln's desire to end the war was quickly as possible - and part of that was taking advantage of the manpower superiority that the north had over the south. Lincoln didn't want to resume the prisoner exchanges because while the north could easily handle the loss of troops he knew the south could not. By leaving huge number of troops as POWs in the south, the south had to use resources to care for them and guard them, in addition to all the southern troops that the north held as POWs, which further weakened the south. Some say this is heartless, but the idea was that overall the loss of life would be lower if the war ended sooner.
So with all that said I still rate the book 4-stars because it's a good and interesting read. The Adventures in the Confederacy is a good title since it is an adventure and it's written in an easy to read mostly lighthearted fashion. Again you have to do your best to try to figure out what is legit and what isn't, but still it provides a different point of view to events so there is something to be taken from that.
The reader of this book does a very good and I would probably be more like a 4.5.
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