cover image Escape from Andersonville

Escape from Andersonville

Daniel Lenihan, Gene Hackman, . . St. Martin?s, $25.95 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36373-4

For their third collaboration, two-time Academy Award–winner Hackman and Lenihan (Justice for None ) competently mine Civil War lore to dramatize a prison escape. Southwest Georgia’s Andersonville, aka Fort Sumter, was as bad a Confederate POW stockade as the gut-wrenching descriptions here (“an Old Testament nightmare”) attest. Union Capt. Nathan Parker, commanding the Michigan 5th (aka Parker’s Rangers, famed as a mounted infantry unit), is captured along with 23 of his men outside Washington, D.C., during Jubal Early’s July 1864 Confederate raid. Two months later, Nathan breaks out, vowing to return and save his soldiers. Between the violent clashes undertaken with his hired guns, Nathan copes by reciting Thoreau and fondly recalling his lover, Darien Crosby. He presses his noble if not reckless mission despite his raiders’ slippery loyalties, and the result is a rousing take on familiar territory. (May)