FREEDOM RISING: Washington in the Civil War

Ernest B. Furgurson, Author . Knopf $30 (480p) ISBN 978-0-375-40454-2

The journalistic parentage of this book is apparent. Anecdotes, interesting characters—some well known, others obscure—and facts abound, all presented with obvious zeal by an author who spent 30 years with the Baltimore Sun and has written three other books on the Civil War. What's missing is a structure to help Furgurson's exhaustive research, doled out in brief vignettes, cohere into a compelling narrative. The book is neither the promised urban history nor a history of the Civil War, which has certainly been abundantly documented elsewhere, including in Furgurson's other works (Chancellorsville ; Not War but Murder ). Instead, the reader gets confusing snatches of both. One chapter, for example, begins with a sequence of anecdotes about three young women who arrive in Washington by different routes; devotes a page to Mary Todd Lincoln's spendthrift ways; veers out to St. Louis and John Frémont's unauthorized freeing of Missouri's slaves; proceeds to a discussion of the imposition of martial law and the political discord it causes; and ends with Julia Ward Howe's penning of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Civil War buffs and Washingtonians well may find in all this more grist for their enthusiasms, but the general reader may grow impatient as the author ricochets from battlefield to ballroom. 16 pages of b&w photos, 3 maps. Agent, Black Literary Agency. (Nov. 7)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 343 pages - 978-0-307-42595-9
Paperback - 463 pages - 978-0-375-70409-3
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