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98CIVIL WAR HISTORY ease if not altogether eliminate the ordeal to which a sick or wounded soldier was subjected. They collected vast sums of money which were expended on medical supplies, clotiiing, blankets, and special foods which would vary the dreary diet of the convalescent. The Commission attracted a great many noble spirited men and women who risked health and even life to aid and comfort the battle wounded. While service in the Commission would naturally appeal to the kind of "foxes and wolves" which so stirred Whitman's ire it is to the everlasting credit of this organization that the majority rendered a badly needed service for little, if any, compensation. Once a soldier became ill or was wounded the official attitude during the Civil War seemed to have been that he was useless and no longer deserved attention or consideration. It was this fixed attitude which the Sanitary Commission attacked. In so doing it was bound to clash with the somewhat limited methods of Surgeon General Clement A. Finley. With the aid of powerful friends Finley resisted all attempts to force his retirement. When William A. Hammond finally succeeded him Finley did all he could to undermine Hammond's effective overhaul of an antiquated Medical Bureau. Lack of time to study the entire problem , the vast scope of the War itself, and the heavy demands for skill and knowhow , not readily available obliged Hammond to brush aside details in an attempt to meet critical situations. Eventually Stanton appointed a committee to investigate die bureau. As a result of the trial which followed, Hammond was dismissed. Behind him Hammond left solid achievements which no amount of slander or bickering could erase. Mr. Maxwell goes on to show that out of the Sanitary Commission's dedication to a cause came die American Red Cross. Lincoln's Fifth Wheel is a long needed study of the important role the Sanitary Commission played during the Civil War. In writing this significant book William Maxwell has made a real contribution to the fuller understanding of the sweeping American drama which was that protracted struggle. ARNOLD GATES Garden City, New York Fiction Fights the Civil War. By Robert A. Lively. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1957. Pp. viii, 230. $6.00. ) "the only reason for the existence of a novel," said Henry James in 1884, "is that it does attempt to represent life." In his admirable essay, "The Art of Fiction ," he went on to relate the art of the novelist with the art of the painter: "Their inspiration is the same, their process (allowing for the different quality of the vehicle) is the same, their success is the same. They may learn from each other, they may explain and sustain each other. Their cause is the same, and the honor of one is the honor of another." Likewise, he related the novelist to the historian: "To represent and illustrate the past, the actions of men, is the task ofeitherwriter, and the only difference that I can see is, in proportion as he succeeds , to the honor of the novelist, consisting as it does in his having more difficulty in collecting his evidence, which is so far from being purely literary." Book Reviews99 These remarks by Henry James are not unknown to Mr. Robert Lively, die author ofFiction Fights the CivilWar, but I recall them here to redress a balance which is lacking in his otherwise admirable work. As a reputable historian, Mr. Lively reveals a high degree of self-consciousness in presenting his volume. "Adventures in unclaimed territory between the historical and literary disciplines," he says in the introductory remarks, "have left me in uncomfortable isolation, unsupported by my fellows. . ." Further, he states: "Historians, my customary associates , have been suspicious of the work's legitimacy; and literary folk, amused at studies of novels by the gross, have often been openly derisive." My evaluation of such statements urges a forceful disagreement. To some extent I sympathize with the author's "isolation" during this suspect task, but I would advise (too late, of course) that he instruct his withdrawn fellows, his suspicious associates, and the "amused" literary folk to withdraw farther to a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 98-101
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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