Andersonville

Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 37 hrs and 13 mins
4 out of 5 stars (428 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed as the greatest novel ever written about the War Between the States, this searing Pulitzer Prize-winning book captures all the glory and shame of America's most tragic conflict in the vivid, crowded world of Andersonville, and the people who lived outside its barricades. Based on the author's extensive research and nearly 25 years in the making, MacKinlay Kantor's best-selling masterwork tells the heartbreaking story of the notorious Georgia prison where 50,000 Northern soldiers suffered - and 14,000 died - and of the people whose lives were changed by the grim camp where the best and the worst of the Civil War came together. Here is the savagery of the camp commandant, the deep compassion of a nearby planter and his gentle daughter, the merging of valor and viciousness within the stockade itself, and the day-to-day fight for survival among the cowards, cutthroats, innocents, and idealists thrown together by the brutal struggle between North and South. A moving portrait of the bravery of people faced with hopeless tragedy, this is the inspiring American classic of an unforgettable period in American history.

©1955 MacKinlay Kantor (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A classic narrator reading a classic work is an unbeatable combination. Grover Gardner is one of a handful of readers who could make the phone directory sound interesting, but when he reads this novel about the infamous Confederate prison camp, the result is a performance that is hard to turn off...." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Andersonville

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Worthy of the Pulitzer

One thing—Worthy of the Pulitzer sometimes means: A Tad Overwrought and Could Use Editing At Points. Okay, there, I said it. This book definitely fits the bill.
But it's a brilliant book.
I bought "Andersonville" back when I was researching Civil War atrocities for a book, and holy cow! If Andersonville wasn't a horrorshow, a blight during an unholy time, I don't know what was. Kantor writes it with such savagery, and with such an eye for detail, you'll be haunted (Let yourself be haunted by some of the imagery. That's part of the treat of reading), and you'll be amazed by his skill. There is some truly unsparing prose here.
The whole book is deftly crafted, with memorable characters (and there are a lot of them; we're talking epic here) who are described with one-of-a-kind details that make you wrinkle your nose, but always, always make you tip your hat to the author. Besides which, 'taint all brutality...
While I found myself most definitely transported to the time, I'm neither a Civil War historian, nor am I even a Civil War buff extraordinaire, so I can't guarantee that all things run authentic to the period. I actually purchased this instead of delving into Shelby Foote's work. But I found it to be profoundly satisfying. Where else am I going to hear (glorified) slave chants? (And by the end, I was so fascinated, I purchased "This Republic of Suffering" because there were so many, too many things the book brought up that I just want to know!)
One problem I thought I'd have was with Grover Gardner. I respect the man, I really do. But as much as I enjoy WWII history (and, really: I AM a military history buff), if I ever need to sleep, all I have to do is listen to Grover Gardner start in with the Third Reich and I'm out like a light. But, I'm surprised to say that he shines in "Andersonville." He has just the right twang/nasal/country quality and carries off the accents well. Further, the energy he has during Hour One of his performance is the same as it is for Hour Ten, Hour Twenty, Hour Thirty.
This is a looooong book. And oddly enough, twitchy as I get, I didn't listen to it at x1.25 speed. It was fine as is.
You up for the long haul?

39 people found this helpful

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90% boring

Highly disappointed with this book. Roughly 85% of this story had little or nothing to do with the prison or prisoners. There were long boring backstories on many characters, but you never discover what happens to them. At one point there is about 40 minutes of a boy learning to play the Fife. The book revolves mainly around a farmer near Andersonville prison. The book does not even describe the prison at the end of the war or the hanging of prison commandant Henry Wertz. I drive over the road and have actually listened to a 16-hour book in one sitting, but it took me nearly two months to finish this long, full book. the parts of the book that actually talked about the prison was interesting, but like I said the book is mostly about the farmer, his family, and some back stories of the soldiers. this is without doubt the worst book I have ever purchased.

5 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly pleased!

I am not a history buff, and I have definitely never read anything about the Civil War; however, this book not only kept my interest for 37 hours I was educated beyond expectations of a life long gone.

It does so telling the tales of the soldiers and civilians on both sides before, during, and after the war; and it brings to life trials and tribulations of survival no matter how ugly.

2 people found this helpful

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3 hots and a cot, this is not!

Excellent historical fiction based on a horrific Civil War prison camp. It has good and bad guys who are supposed to be on the same side in the war, but in prison they break up into their own factions and make life easier for some and more miserable for others. The tide changes back and forth inside the prison to great tension and drama. Aside from the lives of the prisoners, the issues the Confederate overseer goes through are also played out, alongside the local civilians who have their lives changed also.

While there are many stories about prisons from the 20th century wars, and even from the middle ages, but I had never even thought about life in a Civil War prison until I heard about Andersonville (maybe 25 years ago). This book opened up exploration into other Civil War prisons, North and South, that people look back in horror at the treatment the inmates received all around.

Using characters inspired by history and demonstrating the power of hope in a grim situation, the reader gets lured in, absorbed even, by this daunting tale.

The narrator was good... I have other books he has narrated on my Wish List.

This would be a great read for any Civil War enthusiasts or history majors in general. A story worth knowing!

2 people found this helpful

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Long but worthwhile

This is a very good read. It is long and prosy, however it is also a brutal expose of a POW camp from the American Civil War. It is brutal and sad, but also uplifting and hopeful. Many people think that the world hasn't changed for the better, however, if you read history, you cannot argue that we have come a long way regarding human rights in the last 100 years. Man's brutality to man has been a constant thru the ages. This book shows the human side of some inexplicably tragic historical events.

2 people found this helpful

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Detailed Yet One Dimensional

What did you like best about Andersonville? What did you like least?

Fleshed out many details in the lives of some of the characters. One thing that becomes apparent early on is that the 50% of the characters in the conflict that just happened to be black were portrayed in a one dimensional fashion.The following soldiers gave detailed accounts of the black Andersonville prisoners:

Frank Maddox (Mardix), Private, 35th USCT
William Henry (C.) Jennings, Private, 8th USCT
Lewis Dyer, Unknown rank, Unknown Unit
Archibald Bogle (Boyle), Major, 35th USCT
John Fisher, Unknown rank, 8th USCT
Alexander W. Persons (Parsons), Colonel, CSA

And yet the author somehow saw fit to completely color these soldiers out of his story. Furthermore the slaves are portrayed in the simplest manner possible. I found this almost as disappointing as the overall southern apologist point of view the entire story took on.

If you’ve listened to books by MacKinlay Kantor before, how does this one compare?

Never

What three words best describe Grover Gardner’s performance?

Very consistent throughout

Could you see Andersonville being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No

Any additional comments?

None

2 people found this helpful

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What did I miss?

An avid reader of anything Civil War, I occasionally chose an historical novel. I visited Andersonville three times before I read the novel and was very familiar with the major events (horrific conditions, struggles to survive, hanging of the six) and characters (Wirz). Given the fact the author generally stuck to historical fact, I'm thoroughly disappointed that he left Wirz riding on a train to Washington, rubbing his neck. I thought, what a great way to follow on with his trail and eventual demise as the only Confederate to be hung for war crimes. But rubbing his neck is as close as we got. I actually reversed the recording, thinking I must have missed that part. Nope. Otherwise, a wonderful mixture of fact and fiction. Grover Gardner is the best. Period.

8 people found this helpful

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Wonderful....

A great blend of history and narrative. A compelling story, even more heart-wrenching given that it's part of the fabric of our Nation's history. I cannot recommend Andersonville any more highly. A great volume. Thank you.

4 people found this helpful

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  • LR
  • 04-24-15

Long but draws you in!

Great story! Loved it- never boring. You felt as though you were there in the 1860s. The prison became real, and we began to understand how these men felt. Sympathetic look at the south but I think overall pretty fair

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and performed.

This was one of those books which caused me to look for things to do conducive for listening: getting ready in the morning, driving anywhere, reupholstering furniture, ironing.

Like most Americans, I just remember learning that Andersonville was a horrendous Confederate prison camp. Not usually a fan of war stories, but I must've read reviews convincing me to try this very long book... and I'm glad I did!

Tip: it's always good to wikipedia/Google a lot of these books to get some sort of understanding of what you're in for. In this case, the knowledge that this is a stream-of-consciousness, assemblage of stories with many actual characters was helpful. It reminded me of Michener in that it starts with the pristine land first, evolving through the physical construction, expository chapters on characters' life before entering the camp and then how they survived, or not, ending after the war.

There are passages and chapters that were transcendent, others that are simply horrifying. Many of these descriptions were bookmark-worthy. Beyond that, the different philosophies people either adhered to, or evolved to and from, were interesting. Reading this during the 2020 pandemic/Black Lives Matter events gave me a lot to think about, but it's really more concerned with how this American POW camp affected all who came in contact with it, whether Rebel or Yank or slave.

I read one review which stated, "Try to imagine a place worse than Dachau. It’s impossible, you say. Then imagine, if you will, Dachau just as overcrowded but without the huts, without a clean water supply, without any kind of sanitation; just a palisade with watchtowers around an open field. Imagine people, thousands of people, suffering in confined conditions under an open sky, winter and summer, the only source of water being a marshy stream which rapidly turns into a sewer, a breeding ground for maggots and disease. This is not Germany; this is not Dachau. This is America; this is Andersonville.' - Well, I've been to Dachau, been all over Germany and have read extensively about the Holocaust. This misguided, uninformed review is trying to make a point that this is an unimaginable horror perpetrated on American soil. This book is not to make a comparison of which was worse, but to explore how this type of abomination springs up amidst ordinary people, is tolerated, decays into a Final Solution situation and is only ended with one side defeating the other. War, what is it good for?

p.s. That narrator was spot on.

1 person found this helpful