Online Portfolio

The March by E.L. Doctorow

The March is a novel by E.L. Doctorow about the American Civil War. He writes characters who are turn coats, Generals, freed slaves, a white freed slave, a British reporter, a city boy, a prim Southern woman turned nurse, a European doctor, general assistants, and a photographer and his assistant.

The book was published in 2005, and the author incorporated hindsight into the narrative, for example, speaking of a Southern General he writes "General Johnston and his colleagues of the unjust cause, now embittered and awash in defeat, will have sublimed to a righteously aggrieved state that would empower them for a century."

As a democratic, non-slave holding society, we can experience all of it's virtues. We are free to do what we want as long as it's not against the law. We may take this for granted, and it may seem strange to call Lincoln a Visionary, but at one time not having slaves was considered strange.

Doctorow describes the Union army under General Sherman as an animal or an organism. His troops, medics, and freed slaves consisted of at least 100,000 people. And as the animal moved it's way north through Georgia and the Carolinas, it destroyed or consumed everything in it's path. Railroad lines were uprooted and twisted, mansions were pilfered for vittles and valuables and then destroyed, and whole cities were burnt to the ground.

Not being an American, and not having this all learned to me in school, before reading this I was aware of the race issues but always thought they came from difference and ignorance. Racism is ignorant for sure, but I wonder if the post-confederate states people still yearn to be slaveholders, or if they still see black people as freed slaves. Hopefully not. But I'm sure the hatred has carried through some of the generations of some of the descendants.

Also by Doctorow is Ragtime, which describes America between 1900 and 1917 including a portrait of John D. Rockefeller. He has won numerous awards.


sybil law said...

I'm sold!
Thanks for the recommendation/ review! Always need new books...

John Dantzer said...

It's a good one!