It is interesting to read this diary of a professional English journalist, assigned the American scene on the verge of the...

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MY DIARY NORTH AND SOUTH

It is interesting to read this diary of a professional English journalist, assigned the American scene on the verge of the outbreak of the Civil War, and to compare it with The Fremantle Diary, edited by Walter Lord (Little, Brown- see report P. 100) in which an English Colonel reports his impressions of the South during the same period. Russell starts his journeyings with New York, which he finds uncivilized and apathetic; he goes to Washington and meets most of the key figures and gives pen portraits that show keen perception and understanding. He saw Lincoln as a great and able man, in a time when he was caricatured and villified; he portrays Seward understandingly, but without unduly exalting him. As he headed South, he visited Charleston as war broke into flames, but despite this, was able to get a clear impression of life in town and plantation. Savannah, less vehement than South Carolina in its hatred, Mobile, New Orleans, a journey up the Mississippi to the blockade; Montgomery, where he reports guardedly on the Confederate headquarters -- and again, repeatedly, his vignettes of key figures are exceptional. His travels through the midwest, to Chicago, then via Niagara, back to New York, seem somewhat less understanding, but still more reflective than most contemporary records. With his return to a revitalized Washington, and his attendance on the periphery of Bull Run and the retreat, he met his Waterloo, for his reports ended his usefulness to his London Times. Washington frowned on his acceptance of Confederate victory; his chances for further military reporting were ended.

Pub Date: June 23, 1954

ISBN: 1149478381

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1954