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Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2020
This is a book mostly about the "bloodiest day in American history ", the Battle of Sharpsburg or the Battle of Antietam, the name of the battle depending on northern or southern view. I've read many books about the Civil War, some historical fiction like this but this is the first one I have read entirely from the Confederate viewpoint as most books switch from side to side. In some ways this made the book better as you are only told what one side knows, even though you may know the history of the battle this gives you a different viewpoint. This book shows many of the generals under Lee doubted him at this battle, a point glossed over in many books, and gives Lee a more human touch instead of the infallible commander many books describe. This was a viewpoint that I haven't read as much about. All in all a very good book that I would have given five stars to except for the constant editing errors with wrong words and sentences that was somewhat distracting. A shame this digital version wasn't edited better!
5.0 out of 5 starsAmazing novel that immediately takes its place alongside “The Killer Angels”!
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2018
In 1974 Michael Shaara published the historical novel “The Killer Angels”. It quickly became the benchmark that all Civil War fiction is measured against, and subsequently won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. The character driven, POV based chapters telling the story from the perspective of several characters, real and fictional, has heavily influenced not only historical fiction but fiction in general (see the 5 Game of Thrones books).
“Six Days in September”blew me away. It immediately stands with The Killer Angels as my favorite Civil War novels. It tells the story of six days in General Robert E Lee’s first invasion of the North, the Maryland Campaign of 1862. From the initial battles along the gaps in South Mountain through Lee’s tactical redeployment to the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland behind Antietam Creek. On September 17, a horrifying one day battle that one observer described through the comment that the “entire landscape seemed to turn red” took place and until 9/11/2001 was the single bloodiest day in US history in terms of people killed.
Mr Rossino tells the story from only the Confederate perspective (he has stated that his intention is to write a companion novel, please do so!) which serves the narrative well as to continuity (instead of alternating back and forth between both armies). It also served to highlight the “fog of war” commanders had to deal with when making tactical decisions. The reader knows what the Union Commander has chosen to do only when it becomes clear to General Lee. This was a deft touch from the author and made the experience really come to life for the reader.
The author uses the POV, character driven modality in the novel. We see the six days unfold from the perspective of an infantry private in the 6th Alabama regiment of COL Gordon, Robert Rodes division, who would end up fighting in the famous “Sunken Road”. A very nice touch was the use of a staff officer of Stonewall Jackson’s who at times is borrowed by General Lee. This particular window allows us to see all the staff work that goes into conducting a campaign and battle during this era. I don’t remember having seen a staff officer used as a POV character before, although I could be wrong. Then of course there is the POV of Robert E. Lee. The author brought him vividly to life every bit as much as Michael Shaara did in “The Killer Angels”, if not more so.
The author does not forget the fact that in battles such as the affair at Sharpsburg, the town and townsfolk are every bit characters in the tragedy as well. We see their experience at points in the story, including the destruction in the aftermath of the battle. An afterword provides a “what happened to them” account for some of the major and minor characters in history and memory.
In summary this was a highly immersive, evocative experience and I had trouble putting the book down. I highly recommend this for the Civil War enthusiast and novice alike. 5/5 stars.
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2019
I heard the author on Civil War Talk Radio, and the book sounded very interesting. I read it within a few evenings because it was so good that I couldn't put it down. I can't wait until the next one comes out that follows the Union army. The author mentioned it in his interview, but it does kind of remind me of Killer Angels, but instead of going from one side of the battlefield to the other, his subjects are all on the Confederate side of the chess board. It made the book easier to follow in my opinion. As I said, I'm definitely looking forward to the next book!
4.0 out of 5 starsOutstanding recounting of the Battle of Antietam from the Confederate side.
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2018
Outstanding recounting of the Battle of Antietam from the Confederate side. Six Days in September shows the battle from both the command officers and enlisted men’s point of view. But, as is usually the case in books that focus on just one battle, the enlisted men get the short end of the stick.
I would have given the book five stars but for some egregious editing problems. There were just too many typos and grammar issues that should have been fixed before publication. Despite that, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War and the Battle of Antietam in particular.
5.0 out of 5 starsFact and fiction wonderfully woven into an exciting historical novel.
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2018
After reading an earlier review of Alexander Rossino's book, I was interested, but a little skeptical about how well the author really was able to weave fiction and fact in telling the story of the brutal engagements on South Mountain and Sharpsburg. Much to my relief and reading enjoyment, Mr. Rossino perfectly meshed fact and fiction into a compelling story. The characters, especially the common soldiers of Company D, 6th Alabama Infantry, illuminated what my own Confederate ancestors might have experienced as they faced the constant threat of death during these bloody battles. Extensively researched and exceptionally well written. Congratulations on an excellent historical novel!
Six Days in September is a well researched and flowing novel about the Antietam Campaign of 1862. It involves people from the town of Sharpsburg, Maryland which is an interesting angle because many times the stories of civilians are lost in the telling of the battles, soldiers, and leaders in the Civil War. As a former History teacher I believe that the story of Antietam has to be learned being the bloodiest single day in our history. I always taught how sacrifice was part of American character. Mr. Rossino portrays an excellent story of the Battle and the anticipation by the Reverend John A Adams and his family. I loved the Franklin Turner character and how you placed hime the arc of the story with General Jackson. This was an excellent read. Thank you.
Having read many books on this battle and walking the battlefield on several different occasions, the author brings this chapter of the war vividly to life. I could picture in my mind the locations mentioned. Highly recommend this book and I’m looking forward to the next volume later this year.