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Book Reviews161 battle with the Essex, the Arkansas ran ashore and was helpless under the steady gunfire of the Federal gunboat. Finally, when the situation looked quite hopeless, the Confederates set fire to their ship and saw her destroyed. Mr. Gosnell's accounts of river action are highlighted by on-the-scene accounts written by participants or eye witnesses. Little details of the kind of naval warfare known during the Civil War recreate the individual incidents with a clarity rarely found in the more conventional histories. Although some of the battle scenes are somewhat gory, they tell a great deal about the conditions under which officers and crews of these uncomfortable crafts operated. Early in the book the author explains that many casualties were suffered as the result of splinters. While a shell might simply pass through the wooden structure of a ship the resulting splinters, hurled in all directions, did the heavy damage. The men who manned these iron-clad death traps were a rugged breed enduring not only the normal discomforts of life aboard such a craft but also the bloody chaos of combat. Although other books on the naval story of the Civil War are in the offing, Mr. Gosnell's considered and superbly done study will remain a fitting shelf companion for the best of the lot. Arnold Gates Garden City, New York. Jubilee. By John Brick. (Garden City: Doubleday & Company. 1956. Pp. 320. $3.95.) Guns of Chickamauga. By Richard O'Connor. (Garden City: Doubleday & Company. 1955. Pp. 288. $3.95.) Leaps the Live Thunder. By Garald Lagard. (New York: William Morrow and Company. 1955. Pp. 256. $3.50.) these three pieces of fiction demonstrate that the Civil War is a very popular background for "adventure" writing these days, but not much else. Jubilee is the best of the three; it seems to have been conscientiously researched, and Mr. Brick is trying to say something important about a relatively complex man and the effect of the war upon him. Jefferson Barnes is a West Pointer who realizes that the war is rugged business, and acts accordingly. The men of his upstate hometown New York regiment hate him for his fierce dedication to duty, political officers try to hamstring him for it, his new wife is first bewildered and then embittered by it. The regiment, inevitably, comes to love and respect him, as fictional outfits always come to love tough commanders; the political officers learn to respect him. His wife eventually comes to respect him, too, but no more; Mr. Brick is an honest writer, and there is no spun sugar for the ending. His hero's wife ends up with a man who is much better suited to her, and Jefferson Barnes finally dies in Sherman's last major action against Johnston. The difficulty lies in the fact that nobody cares much. Few things are harder than writing about an unsympathetic protagonist; the reader feels that Jefferson Barnes brings most of his problems on himself, and he lacks the stature which would make him a genuinely tragic and symbolic figure. There is a stong tendency to shrug when the Minié balls rip him apart. Mr. Brick has a good eye for detail, a talent for description; he writes a good battle and a good family quarrel. He has, to the curious folk who are devoted to this period, what might be described rather lamely as a "feel for the War." He may write a very good book about it yet. If the writers of the second and third works listed above have a feel for anything it is a feel for costume hokum. Guns of Chickamauga could be changed, with a simple alteration of words relating to clothes and weapons, to, say, Trench Coats on Television. There are these two fellows, see, and they love the same girl, only she chooses the Wrong one, who ends up as the commanding officer of the Good one and cashiers him unjustly, and the Good one then becomes a war correspondent and exposes a smuggling plot and it turns out he could have the girl back again, only she's not a good girl anymore , and — well, the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 161-162
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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