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Walt Whitman's Memoranda During the War

Walt Whitman's Memoranda During the War (Paperback) by Walt Whitman (Author), Peter Coviello (Editor)

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Book Description

In December of 1862, having read his brother's name in a casualty list, Walt Whitman rushed from Brooklyn to the war front, where he found his brother wounded but recovering. But Whitman also found there a "new world," a world dense with horror and revelation. Memoranda During the War is Whitman's testament to the anguish, heroism, and terror of the Civil War. The book consists of journal entries extending from Whitman's arrival on the front in 1862 through to the war's conclusion in 1865. Whitman details his encounters with soldiers and doctors, meditates on particular battles and on the meanings of the war for the nation, and recounts his wordless though peculiarly intimate public exchanges with President Lincoln, a man Whitman saw often on the streets of Washington and by whom he was deeply fascinated. The book offers an astounding amalgam of death portraits, anecdotes of battle, last words, messages to distant loved ones, and remarkably restrained and muted descriptions of pain, dismemberment, and dying--all of it, however grim, suffused with Whitman's undiminished enthusiasm and affection for these young soldiers. And throughout, we find Whitman laboring with heroic determination to sustain and nourish his once-ardent faith in America and American life, even as the nation unleashed unprecedented violence upon itself. The book also includes Whitman's famous speech "The Death of Abraham Lincoln," selected poems, and a letter to the parents of a deceased soldier. Edited and introduced by Peter Coviello, Memoranda During the War is a powerful portrait of a nation at war written by one of our greatest poets.

Here are some further memoranda printed in the January 1887 issue of The North American Review.

Here are even more memoranda printed in the October 1888 issue of The Century, a popular quarterly.


5 out of 5 stars Superb additional material for Civil War Introduction, January 30, 1999

By A Customer

This review is from: Memoranda During the War (Paperback)

I read this book while also reading "Don't Know Much About the Civil War" and Lincoln's letters and speeches. What a wonderful view into the century that gave rise to this great one. If you are planning to cover the civil war, or even the nineteenth century in America, this would be a central piece to help modern readers understand that time. Whitman's prose style is very modern.

5 out of 5 stars Like a camera into civil war hospitals and camps., November 5, 1998

By A Customer

This review is from: Memoranda During the War (Paperback)

This collection of notes by Walt Whitman written during a period of time when Whitman was visiting war hospitals and camps is superb.

Whitman gives one a glimpse of the war that is photographic and poetic. Its attention to detail, and sympathetic approach must raise a lump in the throat of even the most [hardened] reader.

He shows you the places, the times and the players. He lets them speak their stories through his lines. Through sadness he exalts them.

This book should be a required reading for all highschool or college American History classes.

5 out of 5 stars Treasure, February 28, 2005

By Kenneth M. Goodman (Cleveland, Ohio United States) (REAL NAME)    

This review is from: Memoranda During the War (Hardcover)

How great that this amazing book was liberated from the dusty shelves of the Library of Congress rare books collection. In a weird way, it's sort of like Walt Whitman's "On The Road," except HIS On the Road was the Civil War. It's a touching, sad, glorious & never boring book. Perhaps the most incredible thing about the prose is how "modern" it reads; and isn't it sad, about humanity in general, how Walt's accounts from 1862-1865 are still TOTALLY relevant today, in 2005; and will probably remain TOTALLY relevant for as long as human beings occupy this blood-stained planet.

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