STONEWALL by Stephen Gammell

STONEWALL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An odd subject for a full-length treatment, perhaps, considering the notables whom Fritz has handled more lightly. But the same winning familiarity that made her shorter, somewhat younger biographies successful works well also in this somewhat fuller and more conventional life of Stonewall Jackson--whose shyness and rigidity made him an unpopular student and teacher but a beloved legend as a Confederate general. Fritz points up Jackson's eccentric ways (which included sleeping between wet sheets to improve his digestion, and constantly sucking on lemons), his unbending strictness, his passion for danger and battle, the inhuman demands he made on himself and his men, and the driving ambition that was ever at war with his strong religious beliefs. (Once, after a promotion and prominent victory, he wondered if he shouldn't have been a minister of God instead.) And Fritz fills out the portrait with the fond little jokes and anecdotes the men exchanged about their leader's peculiarities. Fritz's battle reporting is another victory for her method. While neither highlighting the violence nor making light of the horrors, she gives readers some feeling of being there--by quoting from the soldiers' disillusioned letters home, by showing scenes of Rebel-Yankee interchange between battles, by noting peripheral details such as an iron stove lying near a house, "pockmarked with bullets and sputtering as the bullets hit. Ping! Ping! Ping! It sounded as if it were marking the scores in a child's game." Well done.
Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1979
ISBN: 069811552X
Page count: 164pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1979




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