THE RIVER AND THE WILDERNESS by Don Robertson

THE RIVER AND THE WILDERNESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From his shorter novels of the Civil War (The Three Days, 1959, and Antietam Creek, 1960, published by Prentice-Hall) this author enlarges his reportage to cover the actions from Antietam, to Fredericksburg, to Chancellorsville, and the episodes involving the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. His central figures are the bully, big Marlin Slocum from Chittenden County, and his superior, Col. Andrew De Long; from the North are Captain Enos Masterson, lethargically aware of his intelligence but unaware of his stupidity, Major George Peters, whose self importance had been cut short by West Point; and, with many others, there are paths that cross, lives that touch, and blood, deaths, murders, brutality, filth, hunger, some compassion and some kindness to be endured. Peters' betrayal of a home town girl leads him to avoid the man she married, but Ferris has revenge of a kind so that his return home after Peters' death is not without honor; De Long's wife retaliates for his inhumanity by seducing Slocum, who is more than repaid for the humiliating indignities he has suffered; Masterson's conceptions of brotherhood and the glory of war are laid low. Throughout are the officers, the tragic mistakes of strategy and of personal pride, the horrors, grotesque and appalling, of the battlefields, the repulsive incidents of soldiers and their subjugation of civilians, and the life stories of all those within the range of the sprawling story. A massive attack -- on military history and on the reader's senses -- this is for the shockproof.

Publisher: Doubleday