Paperback ´ Andersonville Epub ð

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    Paperback ´ Andersonville Epub ð camp, Prisoner Of War camp situ dans le Comt de Macon l est d Andersonville Andersonville filmAlloCin Andersonville est un film ralis par John Frankenheimer avec Frederic Forrest, William H Macy Synopsis Guerra civil norteamericana Andersonville Que visiter Slection de sites visiter Andersonville Que visiter Retrouvez toute la slction des sites touristiques incontournables de Andersonville avec Michelin Voyage Andersonville Chicago WikipdiaAndersonville la terrible prison confdre de GorgieLa prison confdre d Andersonville en Gorgie Egalement appele Camp Sumter , la prison d Andersonville l est de la ville du mme nom servit aux Sudistes de camp afin d emprisonner les prisonniers de guerre nordistes Ce ne fut pas la seule, mais c est celle qui a le plus marqu l histoire Andersonville TV Mini SeriesIMDb A tale of imprisonment and survival inside the notorious Confederate POW camp known as Andersonville Civil War historians would probably with certainty find various historical inaccuracies but it is worth viewing although a tad on the long side Andersonville Prison, Location Civil War HISTORY Andersonville Prison Commander Wirz Executed From Februaryuntil the end of the American Civil War in April , Andersonville, Georgia, served as the site of a notorious."/>
  • Paperback
  • 766 pages
  • Andersonville
  • MacKinlay Kantor
  • English
  • 15 February 2019
  • 9780452269569

About the Author: MacKinlay Kantor

Andersonville Kantor was born in Webster City, Iowa, in His mother, a journalist, encouraged Kantor to develop his writing style Kantor started writing seriously as a teen ager when he worked as a reporter with his mother at the local newspaper in Webster City Kantor's first novel was published when he was During World War II, Kantor reported from London as a war correspondent for a Los Angeles newspaper After flying on several bombing missions, he asked for and received training to operate the bomber's turret machine guns this was illegal, as he was not in service Nevertheless he was decorated with the Medal of Freedom by Gen Carl Spaatz, then the US Army Air Corp commander He also saw combat during the Korean War as a correspondent In addition to journalism and novels, Kantor wrote the screenplay for Gun Crazy aka Deadly Is the Female , a noted film noir It was based on his short story by the same name, published February , in a slick magazine, The Saturday Evening Post In , it was revealed that he had allowed his name to be used on a screenplay written by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten, who had been blacklisted as a result of his refusal to testify before the House Un American Committee HUAC hearings Kantor passed his payment on to Trumbo to help him surviveSeveral of his novels were adapted for films He established his own publishing house, and published several of his works in the s and sKantor died of a heart attack in , at the age of , at his home in Sarasota, Florida.

10 thoughts on “Andersonville

  1. Larry Bassett Larry Bassett says:

    This is a book that I read as a young teenager. It changed my life. I was living a fairly middle class suburban life and couldn't believe that people could be treated the way people in this book were treated. It was not so much an anti-war book for me as an anti-humanity book. People could not do the things that were described here to other people. Not possible. It would be impossible for humans to suffer like that.

    I had had a limited experience of the South. My family had driven from Michigan to the Gulf Coast in Florida for warm Easter vacations. This was before the Interstates were completed so we drove some stretches through the South on the blue highways. We saw glimpses of poverty and segregation. But Andersonville was on a highway like none I had ever experienced or imagined.

    This book introduced me to experiences that I could barely fathom. It showed me what a safe little world I inhabited and thought was normal. I had had duck 'n' cover in the hallways of my elementary school, had heard a little about the holocaust and Hiroshima. But Andersonville started to actually put some real tarnish on the shiny world that I thought I inhabited.

    Listening to the Audible version many years later.
    August 18, 2017

    The book begins with ira wondering his land early of a morning. Ira is familiar with the land and with the flora in the fauna. Listening to him think about the plants and animals is quite enjoyable. He is probably 50 and has several slaves that help him farm the land. He had three sons but two are already dead in the water and one still serves. As he enjoys his solitude in the country A small party appears, soldiers and surveyors. They are searching out a site to be a prison for union soldiers. As they ride off ira hope they will not choose his land.

    I am amazed to find myself at the beginning of chapter 7 and still amidst the details prior to the development of Andersonville.

    I continue to progress through the Audible book up to chapter 24 now. Descriptions of the prison camp with a population of over 10,000 are somewhat horrifying although The book is actually still dominated by descriptions of individuals, often their lives prior to the Civil War and their imprisonment.

    There are now 22,000 prisoners in Andersonville. The commandant of the prison is of German dissent and still speaks German frequently. This is an interesting addition to the Audible format. He is presented with a strange combination of characteristics: both cruelty but also a desire to make the prison a better facility. The outer wall of the stockade is made with 22 foot tree trunks buried five or 6 feet into the ground and rising approximately 15 feet into the air. At one point the size of the stockade was increased creating about 760 feet of logs that would be removed and could be reused. The commandant had many plans for this lumber but he got up one morning and found that the prisoners had removed the logs themselves by hand and made many improvements in their living conditions with the wood.

    There are now 33,000 prisoners in Andersonville. Apparently many of them are Catholic as evidenced by the stories of the Catholic priest who serves the community. It sometimes takes a strong stomach to read the descriptions of the smells of Andersonville. Human waste and rotting bodies both dead and alive. The prison camp could be smelled 2 miles away.

    Andersonville: a stench in the nostrils of history. The neighbors of the camp whom we met earlier in the book did on occasion try to improve the circumstances of the prisoners. They brought food that was surplus from their farms. This food was used for those who worked at the camp but not allowed to be distributed to the prisoners. After several reports about the extraordinarily poor conditions were ignored by Richmond, one neighbor set out on a perilous journey to Richmond as the war was drawing to a conclusion and the south was in some chaos.

    Coral is an 18-year-old confederate who has lost a foot in the war. He comes across a 20-year-old Union soldier who has escaped from Andersonville with a lost hand. This unlikely pair become friends in a touching story at the end of the book. A confederate father who had lost three sons joins them at the end as they manufacture a peg leg for the lost foot. And then the Union soldier heads off seeking freedom and having found unlikely friendship. This story might just make the whole book worthwhile.

    Andersonville existed for 19 months and at one time held as many as 33,000 union prisoners although it was initially intended for only 10,000. It achieved a certain infamy has 14,000 soldiers died there. This book is filled with horror and humanity. The book begins and ends with the man who owned the land where the 27 acre stockade was constructed. He owned slaves and loved nature and felt himself to be a decent man. There is also the story of captain Wirtz who was the commandant of Andersonville and tried he thought to run a good facility even though he was never given the supplies and resources he needed do I send more prisoners then he could handle. He thought he was a good and kind person who followed orders.

    This book was published in 1955 and the audible version which I just listened to was recorded 60 years later.

  2. Jay Jay says:

    I am curious how a work enters the Contemporary Canon. Who or what decides if any given literary piece survives beyond its publication as some type of icon, valued for its uniqueness or literary strength? And indeed, how is “uniqueness” determined or defined and by whom?

    McKinley Kantor’s “Andersonville” was a hit in the wake of its publication in 1955. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956; was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, was well-reviewed and long remained on the best seller list. I remember when it came into our house as a hardcover that prominently weighted our bookshelf after my parents devoured it and invited extended discussions about the Civil War. It was Kantor’s masterpiece, prepared over 25 years of research and investigation. Bruce Catton called it the best Civil War novel I have ever read.

    Although it long enjoyed both popularity and financial success in the wake of its publication, my sense is that it is not considered today as a part of the Contemporary Canon. It certainly does not figure in any of the more common lists of notable fiction from the XX Century and I would be surprised to find it listed in a major bibliography of selected, fiction works dealing with the Civil War.

    Perhaps one reason why it has slipped into oblivion is that its structure is antithetical to contemporary tastes. The current age is mesmerized by hagiographies infrequently written by professional historians. In both histories and historical novels, preferences run to a central figure whose actions or inactions thread dominantly through the work. Biographies, for example, of the Founding Fathers are today’s rage. In “Andersonville”, there is no central figure outside the prison itself. The plantation owner, Ira Claffey, opens and closes the novel, but he does not control the action. Rather, the work is a collection of vignettes of a large number of ordinary people (some historical but most fictional) of whom Claffey is merely one. It resembles more closely the work of the social historians who might seem uninterested in sketching for the reader a broader narrative synthesis and thus are less attractive to the general public.

    There is also the length of the novel. At 760 word-packed pages, it probably tries the patience of readers who prefer tighter editing. Also, several reviewers have been negatively critical of Kantor’s failure to mark dialogue clearly. Exposition and conversation run together, without identifying punctuation, causing frustration and confusion among some readers.

    Yet, although the novel may have escaped a place among the XX Century American Canon, it is still an engaging and informative read, stylistically strong. It captures in effortless prose the Nation toward the latter part of the armed conflict when the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy is all too apparent as are the horrors of the unexpectedly lengthy war.

    Andersonville the prison, run by the Confederacy to hold captured Union soldiers, is the scene of human depravity both inside the stockade and outside. And Kantor captures that depravity in its full dimension. You see it, feel it, hear it, taste it and smell it. During the 14 months of its existence (1864-1865), more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined there and some 13,000 died, wasted away from starvation, exposure to the elements, overcrowding and disease.

    In Kantor’s telling, death stalks life; the strong pray on the weak; humanity is redefined without redemption; indifference replaces compassion. It is the story of ordinary people mutating into animals during uncommon times.

    Although Andersonville prison—its community of guards, prisoners and neighbors—is the focal point of the novel, Kantor gives each of the people he highlights deep histories. His people come from rural and urban roots: farmers, landowners, artisans, professionals, slaves, vagabonds, seamen, ruffians and hooligans, traders and merchants. In their composite, they and their families are a microcosm of American society of the 1860s, mutilated and depressed by the barbarity of war.

    While evil infuses the novel, it is not a hopeless world. Some humanity does survive. A physician labors to alleviate suffering even though his efforts are inadequate and unsuccessful; a handful of prisoners organize an internal policing effort to permanently stop a cadre of bullies and thugs (fellow prisoners themselves) from wanton exploitation. Toward the end of the novel, an escaped prisoner is befriended by one of the prison guards, forming, in the process, an ultimately deeply emotional and liberating friendship. But the examples of humanity and civility only underscore the basic brutality of Andersonville and, ultimately, of the Civil War itself.

  3. Susan Susan says:

    I will admit that I have very little knowledge of American history, including the American Civil War. As a reader, I have found that historical fiction is a good place to begin when you are starting out to investigate a subject and “Andersonville,” seemed to come up again and again in lists of novels which best explore, and explain, the Civil War.

    It is a huge book (not available in kindle in the UK, so this is really a door-stopper of a novel), standing at over 750 pages and with an enormous cast of characters. The author does an incredible job of setting the scene, as we begin with plantation owner, Ira Claffey, and are gradually introduced to his family and neighbours. Ira has lost three sons to the war, his wife is descending into deep depression and his daughter, Lucy, has seen the man she was to marry also killed.

    Ira Claffey is a slave owner; yet, paradoxically, he also sees himself as a good man. His family, his whole way of life is under threat, and yet he views himself as a benevolent father figure and is concerned that, if his slaves are given freedom, they will be unable to care for themselves. Throughout this book, we see how Ira’s views change and we witness events from the point of view of many of his household and his neighbours. These include a poor, white family, named the Tebbs; including ‘Widow Tebbs’ who flagrantly makes her living from the attentions of the many men who visit her shabby house, and her tribe of children.

    Near the beginning of this novel, Ira is approached by men looking for a site in which to keep Yankee prisoners. This is the beginning of Camp Sumter, which will become known as the notorious “Andersonville,” prison camp. Henry Wirz is the German speaking superintendant of the stockade, who suffers constantly from a wound in his arm and is unable to muster respect from either his superiors, so relies on hatred and fear to rule. There is also the bookish medic, Harrell Elkins, who knew Ira Claffey’s sons and is concerned at what he sees in the building of the camp.

    Indeed, there is not really any building at all – other than a stockade. There is no shelter from rain, or sun. No attempt to make the camp liveable or provide reasonable conditions for the prisoners herded inside the walls. This means that, certainly at the beginning, the fittest survive and the weakest find themselves at the mercy of those able to physically attack and abuse them. With rations infrequent and insufficient, no shelter, sickness rife and a lack of leadership, the place descends into a living hell. Meanwhile, locals, like Claffey become aware of what is going on and struggle with their consciences at seeing their ‘enemies’ so degraded.

    This is a book which requires commitment and time to read. There are endless characters and stories from both inside, and outside, the camp. We are introduced to the ‘raiders’ who control the camp, such as Willie Collins. There is the cultured, Jewish prisoner, Nathan Dreyfoos and the man who befriends him, Seneca MacBean. Eben who loved birds and Father Peter Shelen who ministers to the dead and dying. There is bravery, defiance, horror and shame, as the men suffer and die, and yet keep arriving to suffer and die…
    One of the things which really interested me about this novel were how many of those involved were first generation immigrants. Nathan Dreyfoos, for example, does not consider even joining the war until a chance encounter causes him to join up. Many of those involved are German (including Wirz), Irish, or from a whole host of other countries. As such, we hear their back stories and what led them to this point and also of the despair, and the futility, that those outside the stockade feel as the horror of the camp unfolds.

    It is also interesting that the author mentions that Ira Claffey and his family can actually ‘smell’ the camp from their house, and has parallels perhaps with people in small towns near concentration camps, in the Second World War, who denied any knowledge of what unfolded so close to where they live. For it is apparent that people talk and gossip, and that Claffey, and his neighbours, are obviously interested; going to view the initial building, going to witness the first prisoners arrive and have a more obviously human interest in what is going on so close to them which is much more believable. It is also clear that what they see eventually shocks them to the core.

    Events at Andersonville will change the people involved, and may change you as a reader. This is a novel which is vast in scope and which I am glad I have read. I feel it did give me some understanding of (some, at least) of the events in the American Civil War. Although it is an uncomfortable read, for much of the time, it was a rewarding one and I am glad that I finally got around to reading it – having meant to do so for a long time.

  4. Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont says:

    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.

    Thanks to Ike Jakson, a fellow blogger, I’ve read Andersonville, the 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by MacKinlay Kantor. It’s set during the American Civil War, for the most part in and around Andersonville, a prisoner of war camp near the town of Anderson in Georgia, which opened in February 1864. In just over twenty-six acres thousands of Union prisoners were penned as in a zoo, with no shelter other than their own rough shebangs, holes dug in the ground, covered with blankets or coats propped up with sticks. In the year or so it was open an estimated 45 thousand men passed through its gates; almost 13 thousand never passed out again, other than to the grave, dead of malnutrition, neglect, malaria, diarrhoea, scurvy and gangrene.

    Andersonville is a powerful novel, one of the most powerful I’ve ever read, and I say that without a trace of exaggeration. Kantor spent years on background research, evidenced in his writing, material he handles with ease, fully digested, unlike so many other historical novels. It could, given the subject, have been an angry book, a bleak book, but it’s not; it’s a book full of gentle understanding and humanity. There are parts that are difficult to read, there is real horror, but there is nothing lurid, nothing overstated in Kantor’s treatment.

    It’s a mixture of fact and fiction, a mixture of real people and wholly believable characters: unforgettable characters like Ira Claffey and his daughter Lucy, who live on a plantation close to the camp, and Nathan Dreyfoos, a cultured man, a Union prisoner, carried to Andersonville by chance and fate. There are others, large and small, people the author takes from their homes and guides them through his pages, sometimes invisible, other times not. It’s a story, in so many ways, of intersected lives and intersected destinies.

    In Dachau the Nazis imposed a brutish order, with guards in the camp and designated block orderlies. In Andersonville, or Camp Sumter, to give its official name, there was no order or policing. The authorities stayed outside for the most part, allowing the prisoners to manage the best they could. The worst was a kind of jungle, a Darwinian struggle of the strong against the weak.

    For me this was the most depressing part of the story, that predatory gangs known as Raiders organised themselves to steal from their already impoverished comrades, not stopping short of murder. This is not fiction; this really happened and it continued to happen until other prisoners formed their own police force, the Regulators, imposing a kind of order in the midst of misery. The order went so far as trying and condemning the leaders of the Raiders, a process carried out with the cooperation of the camp authorities.

    The authority, the person with immediate responsibility for Andersonville, was one Captain Henry Wirz, of Swiss German origin, the only person convicted and executed after the Civil War of what we now refer to as war crimes. Kantor does not condemn him, no; he merely presents him as a self-pitying, ineffectual and rather wretched little man, an obvious scapegoat. His greater culprit is General John H Winder,responsible for the whole of the Confederate prison system, depicted as a callous and brutish individual who, along with his son, is alleged to have deliberately engineered death by neglect.

    It’s as well to remember, though, that Andersonville is a novel, not a history. In the spirit of poetic licence some liberties are taken with the facts. There is not the least doubt about the callous indifference with which many of the Confederate authorities perceived the Union prisoners, but the camp opened at a time when the Southern state itself was dying; at a time when supply was breaking down, when shortages were commonplace; a time when even soldiers in the field went hungry. This is not to excuse what happened at Andersonville, to excuse the dehumanisation, merely to offer a wider understanding.

    Of the dozens of novels I’ve read this year Andersonville is by far the best, only equalled by Vassily Grossman’s Life and Fate, by coincidence another account set against a background of war. Kantor writes in a lucid and compelling fashion, a narrative that quickly engages and carries one along. He writes in a wholly believable way about wholly believable people. Some books are instantly forgettable, no matter how enjoyable. This is a book that cannot be forgotten, one destined to leave a perpetual afterimage in my mind.

  5. Tracy Towley Tracy Towley says:

    This book was ridiculously awful.

    The worst part was how, for the first 50 pages or so, I thought it was going to be super bad ass awesome. It was about a southern town (Anderson) where a prison was built during the civil war. The first chapter was about the family whose land was taken by the rebels in order to build this prison. The characters were rich, engaging and conflicted.

    However, it turned out that basically every chapter is full of new people. There was a very small continuing plot line, but for the most part it was disjointed tellings of the atrocities in this prison. Incredibly graphic passages abounded, and while I did care in that I care that any human was treated this way, kind of way, I did not care in an, I know and care about this character specifically, kind of way.

    Also, Kantor felt the need to not include any quotation marks in the book. Half the time I didn't even realize someone was talking until halfway through their speech. Not cool my friend. Not cool.

    I actually only made it about 750 pages into this 900+ page book. Typically I will finish a book no matter what, but when there is no real continuing plot and I hated it as much as I did, I didn't really see a purpose.

    The author clearly did his research, and wanted to include every morsel of it, and I can see why Civil War buffs might care about this book. It was not for me though.

  6. Feliks Feliks says:

    Any five chapters of this novel --take them in a row, or cherry-pick--are more authoritative, more astutely conceived and better executed than--well--really, you'll find them better than any American novel written today.

    With the possible exception of more titles of true stature coming from recluse Thomas Pynchon (unlikely) there is basically no author alive in this country right now, who can write at this level. This is a caliber of novel which has essentially disappeared from our national literature. Contemporary readers can't handle something like this. No one today has the patience. No one would sit still long enough to travel back in time, to the American Civil War. They wouldn't stand for it.

    The rewards of tackling a novel this vast are assured; but admittedly, this is a difficult book. You need to rise to meet the challenge. 'Andersonville' can be very ponderous, lugubrious, and slow-moving; it is introspective; it deals with vanished seas of thought and feeling in American life. It is chock-full with the unfamiliar and the never-before-treated. You will knit your brow--pause--and squint--very often during its length. Certain paragraphs take several re-readings. But it is your responsibility to measure up. Kantor will not hold your hand with footnotes or asides. He expects you to keep up with him (audiences were entirely capable of this, at one time).

    'Andersonville' dwells on the most minute and plodding detail of setting, wardrobe, habit, and speech, for its timeperiod. In the course of this sweeping work of history, you will learn what songs were hummed in the Civil War era, what scripture people commonly quoted to one another. What poems they recited. You will learn all about Abraham Lincoln-era diseases, weapons, cannons, sabers, farming techniques, locomotive trains. How Americans drew their drinking water, raised vegetables, how they washed; how they slept; how they ran their households; how they managed livestock. You will discover what medicine they relied on, what food they ate, what utensils they ate with, what they carried in their pockets, what shoes they wore; how they rigged their horses and oxen. This is the overwhelming fabric which is woven into this story. It's enormous and staggering. Its not too much to say that this is one of the all-time greatest feats of descriptive prose you will ever encounter.

    Technically speaking: Kantor has some ingenious narrative tricks I've rarely--if ever seen done. Chapter after chapter--he switches POV from one character to another; shifts from one setting to another; one conversation to another; one voice to another; one flow of thought to another--sometimes all in the space of one page. Its beautifully handled. Fluid and confident authorship.

    There are many passages of stark, somber, pastoral beauty. Other parts are rib-bustingly funny, hoot-out-loud hilarious. Other parts will turn you green and make you queasy. Kantor will take you to the filthiest tenement in pre-Tweed Manhattan; to dusty wagon roads in Ohio; then to a battlefield in Tennessee, then a railway bridge in Lousiana, then a general store in Pennsylvania, then to a Bible meeting in Massachussets, then to an ironclad warship off the coast of Richmond.

    All of these places are filled-to-overflowing with conversation and incident. Women in hoopskirts; men in uniforms; whiskers and beards everywhere. Tykes in britches and ministers in frock-coats; doctors, butchers, muleskinners, gravediggers, drovers, farriers, ostlers, carters, fieldhands, prison guards, prostitutes, sailors. Bullies, braggarts, weaklings, cheats, sneaks. It is a slice of our world at the time in question.

    Also I must remark that 'Andersonville' is one of the great 'food' novels. There is a mind-boggling cornucopia of foodstuffs, described in this story. Never seen the beat of it. Kantor exhausts the English vocabulary on his treatment of Civil War-era food. It will make your stomach rumble and mouth water when you read some of these meals.

    It is also one of the great physical, brawny, stories ever; by this I mean villains just about as formidable, as ugly, despicable and menacing as found in anything by Dickens. Far worse. Violent men. And they need to be beaten down by good men. Hand-to-hand. Muscle vs muscle and brute vs brute. Ferocious amounts of blood and pain and upheaval. Melees. Mano a' mano combat.

    Overall it is a sad book; a book that goes into frank, gruesome detail towards our humanity. Sex and filth and hunger. Revenge and stupidity and rage. Loneliness, hopelessness, despair. Insanity. Men raping one another, beating on each other, stealing from one another, cold-bloodedly killing each other. Executing each other. Maiming each other. You will read about urine and feces and pus and bile and lice and rotten flesh and frostbite and bedbugs and vomit and scurvy, diarrhea, malnutrition, and shrapnel. Half-dead stick men shuffle from page to page, their skin covered with open, oozing sores.

    It is sad. But it is epic. Perhaps the greatest epic yet written about our land. How many others are there like it? How few decades have passed since this work--and all it upholds-- has already been forgotten? What would our culture resemble, if there were many such books as this? Compare Kantor's example to that of Dante. What Dante did for Italy, we can not find the equivalent for; yet we're in arguably more need. We need more books like this. Our short memory spans are killing us!

  7. Porter Broyles Porter Broyles says:

    As they say in comedy, timing is everything.

    If I read this at any time other than the height of the George Floyd protests, I might have walked away with a different view. And I'll be honest, I'm loath to give a book 1 star---especially a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that is not half bad (even if it is historically flawed).

    So why the one star?

    Because this book sells, what has become known as Frederick Douglass' the happy slave myth.

    Near the end of the book, the South has lost and slave owner comes to tell his slaves that they are free. He informs them that they are now free, but that if they stay he'll provide for them (less a fair expenses). They respond with:

    Oh no Massa, you are our Massa, and we are loyal to you! We are gonna stay loyal to you because you was such a good Massa. We won't go any where without you. We are so thankful because you took such good care of us, and were so fair to us, and we love you massa.

    And of course, the slave owner has to pontificate about how fair an just he was to his slaves.

    Still, two slaves and their families choose to leave. He tries to talk them out of leaving, but when they insist on leaving, he's the generous Massa. He provides them with food for their journey and a letter extolling their virtues for a future employer. The letter also instructs those who might stop them to leave them in peace.

    After they leave, he reflects upon how it does not surprise him that they were the two slaves who left because they were the smartest of the slaves, and their chosing to leave gives him hope that someday the negro may actually amount to something.

    As a history buff, I was already having some problems with the historical errors of the book, but I was willing to overlook them because this is fiction, but in the context of the current sensativities to Black Lives Matter, I can't ignore it---even if it was a short section.

  8. Kirk Smith Kirk Smith says:

    Historical novels are, without question, the best way of teaching history, for they offer the human stories behind the events and leave the reader with a desire to know more. This is a 5 star that I rate lower to discourage other readers. Looking through a reversed telescope at a prisoner of war camp, in fact a true death camp, is probably a subject for few readers. There is no glory of war in this book. It seems to be a true and accurate depiction of the worst War and human endeavors can produce. MacKinlay Kantor's writing is fluid and genius. There is also fortunately equal representation of the goodness and generosity of humankind or this book would be pure torture. As a historical novel: brilliant. Perhaps the most inglorious book ever written.

  9. Carol Storm Carol Storm says:


    It wasn't a terrible book, and I read all of it, which probably puts me in the minority. It was just sort of blah. As Agnes Mack said, there were so many characters that none of them ever become especially memorable.

    There are other problems. While this book is not as racist as GONE WITH THE WIND, Kantor still takes a very tolerant view of slavery. All the slaveowners in the book are benign and enlightened, which is the oldest of Southern lies. One even brags that he whipped a male slave for beating his wife -- bet that didn't happen very often.

    There are no Abolitionist Yankees, no black runaways, no-one to challenge the Southern view.

    Oddly enough, the main conflict in the book is between the native Anglo-Saxon Yankee prisoners, and the criminal element. Kantor portrays the bad Yankees as 100% Irish, Catholic, and urban. While he certainly has the Irish gangster stereotype down pat, it would have been nice to see a few loyal Irish soldiers. At the very least, the evil Irish mob boss could have been more up front about their real reason for hating the war -- that is, hatred of the blacks competing for their jobs.

    In the end, though, the book is so bland it's not even offensive when it's totally dishonest. GONE WITH THE WIND is hateful in many ways -- but it's never boring.

    ANDERSONVILLE is just dull.

  10. Paul Haspel Paul Haspel says:

    Andersonville is one of those names from American Civil War history that a lot of Civil War buffs don’t want to bring up. Say “Gettysburg” or “Antietam,” “Shiloh” or “Chickamauga,” and immediately what comes to mind is the epic combat action that took place on those battlefields: strategy and tactics, and the heroism of individual units and soldiers. Andersonville, on the other hand, was not a battlefield, but rather a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. About 45,000 Union soldiers were held there, and almost 13,000 of them died amidst the filthy conditions of that overcrowded camp, making one’s odds of dying at Andersonville slightly higher than one in four. How strange, and in a way how appropriate, that one of the best-known and most critically praised novels of the Civil War is not a Homeric battle narrative, but rather is MacKinlay Kantor’s 1955 novel Andersonville.

    Kantor was a highly popular novelist of the mid-20th century; one of his stories was adapted into the Oscar-winning film The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), a look at the challenges that World War II veterans faced while adjusting to civilian life. And Kantor had treated Civil War-related subject matter before, when he wrote Long Remember, a fine novel showing how the lives of Pennsylvania civilians were forever changed when their peaceful Adams County homes became the site of the Battle of Gettysburg.

    But Kantor’s somewhat abstract pre-war interest in writing a novel about Andersonville became decidedly less abstract when, as a World War II combat correspondent, he visited the Nazis’ Buchenwald death camp shortly after its April 1945 liberation by American forces. He later told an interviewer that, while standing amidst the incomprehensible horrors of Buchenwald’s sights and sounds and smells, he knew that he would one day write a novel about Andersonville.

    Kantor’s Andersonville begins with the camp being hacked out of the southwest Georgia wilderness, to the considerable concern of nearby residents like planter Ira Claffey and his daughter Lucy. Claffey, a decent and well-educated fellow, seems to be in the novel as part of Kantor’s attempt to work out for himself how thousands of otherwise decent and well-educated people could engage in the indecency of slaveholding. In novelistic terms, Claffey provides the reader with a civilian’s, outsider’s view, permitting the reader to be introduced gradually to the growing horror of the camp.

    The research that Kantor did for Andersonville shows, as real-life participants in the terrifying drama of Andersonville are a presence throughout the book. John Ransom, the Michigan cavalryman whose Andersonville Diary (1881) is one of the classic accounts of prisoner life in the camp, is a presence in the book: “Johnny Ransom had a broken stub of pencil, and he chewed the pencil and made it smaller and found difficulty in writing with it; but he was determined to write a diary” (p. 188). The better you know the history of Andersonville, the more you will enjoy the way Kantor brings together real historical figures of Andersonville with characters he has created.

    Sympathetic Southern characters in Andersonville, along with Ira and Lucy Claffey, include a conscientious surgeon named Harrell Elkins, who hopes that his efforts can relieve the unfortunate prisoners at Andersonville. But Elkins might as well be trying to bail out the sea. The camp’s commandant, Captain Henry Wirz, is a martinet whose congenital bad temper is perpetually aggravated by the pain of an arm wound that he received at the battle of Seven Pines in Virginia; his rule of the camp is negligent at best, criminal at worst. Wirz’s German heritage (even though he was actually Swiss) is emphasized, with his character regularly speaking in German when he is not forced to switch into heavily German-accented English. And Wirz’s superior, General John Winder, openly expresses his hope that the Andersonville camp will kill as many people as possible: “I’ve got a pen here that ought to kill more God damn Yankees than you ever saw killed at the front” (p. 110). Winder, a notoriously disagreeable man in real life, here sounds very much like one of the Nazi camp commandants whose monstrous handiwork Kantor had seen at the liberation of Buchenwald.

    The parallels between Andersonville on the one hand, and the Nazi death camps of the Second World War on the other, come into further relief when Kantor introduces us to one of the main Unionist characters, a Jewish sergeant named Nathan Dreyfoos. His surname reminds the reader of Alfred Dreyfus (the French Army officer of Jewish heritage who suffered unjustly, for a crime that he did not commit, because of an anti-Semitic conspiracy), and Nathan Dreyfoos himself is truly a good man, a mensch. Before the war, he was “dedicated to the eventual comfort and enrichment of humanity” (200); during the war, he fought with courage and honor for a righteous cause; and now that he and his men are captives at Andersonville, he watches out for the welfare of his men, determined to protect them from the many dangers of the camp. Nathan Dreyfoos’s status as a good and guiltless Jewish man in a camp run by a mercurial and frequently cruel German-speaking officer makes the World War II parallels that Kantor wants to draw in Andersonville unmistakable.

    The main dramatic plotlines are twofold. Newcomers to the camp quickly learn that they face danger from people who are theoretically on their side in that war – “Collins’s Raiders,” Union Army renegades and bounty jumpers who, unrestrained by the camp’s Confederate administrators, have formed a gang to rob and beat and even kill their fellow Unionists. As in the history of Andersonville, so in Kantor’s novel, the law-abiding majority form a group of “Regulators” who eventually are able to put down the tyranny of Collins’s Raiders. But even when Collins’s Raiders are gone, the other terrors of Andersonville remain – lack of shelter; inadequate food; a polluted water supply; omnipresent disease; and guards who are ready to shoot any man who steps beyond, or even near, the camp’s “dead line” inside the stockade. The men die rapidly, and Kantor’s descriptions of their suffering are numerous and grim.

    When it was published in 1955, Andersonville was praised as “the best novel of the Civil War” by Bruce Catton and Henry Steele Commager, two of the pre-eminent Civil War historians of the time. It is for you, the contemporary reader, to decide whether Kantor’s Andersonville exceeds the artistic achievement of other well-known Civil War novels – Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage (1895), say, or Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels (1974). Just know, before you start reading this epic 760-page tome, that Andersonville is not a battlefield novel. The only battle you will read about in Andersonville is the fight to survive.

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