A horrific, neglected Civil War battle lives again in a demanding, nonstop assault of facts, anecdotes, vain heroics, and...



Another first-class Civil War history from Furgurson (Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War, 1996, etc.), this one a blow-by-blow analysis of a gory, rarely studied battle that he believes was pivotal in determining the future strategies of Grant and Lee.

Typically overlooked for more famous engagements, the battle of Cold Harbor pitted a coarse, barely-on-the-wagon Grant (newly appointed as General of the Armies by President Lincoln) and thousands of inexperienced troops (led by quarrelsome, bickering commanders) against an ailing but indefatigable Lee and his lean-and-mean Army of Northern Virginia. After two weeks of bloody trench warfare in June 1864, Grant lost upwards of 16,000 men, earning him the “butcher” sobriquet that would follow him for the rest of his life (causing him to downplay the battle in his memoirs). For the Confederates, whose losses have been estimated as less than a third of the Union’s, Cold Harbor was what Furgurson calls “Lee’s last great victory,” during which Lee thwarted Grant’s attempt to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond and refined the strategies that would help him prolong the war into the following year. In telling the story of the battle, Furgurson begins in March, with Lee fighting a series of skirmishes as Grant enters the field with the Army of the Potomac. Grant proceeds to ruffle the feathers of that army’s imperious commander, Major General George Meade, and ignores logistical difficulties that would later cause thousands of green troops to be in the wrong places at the wrong time at Cold Harbor. Furgusorn includes depictions of the foul-mouthed, pint-sized Phil Sheridan, the recklessly brave George Armstrong Custer, the cross-dressing Confederate spy Frank Stringfellow, and numerous eyewitness accounts of “fire which no human valor could withstand.”

A horrific, neglected Civil War battle lives again in a demanding, nonstop assault of facts, anecdotes, vain heroics, and wasted lives. (15 maps, unseen)

Pub Date: June 2, 2000

ISBN: 0-679-45517-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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