Andersonville by MacKinlay KantorThis is a book that I read as a young teenager. It changed my life. I was living a fairly middle class suburban life and couldnt believe that people could be treated the way people in this book were treated. It was not so much an anti-war book for me as an anti-humanity book. People could not do the things that were described here to other people. Not possible. It would be impossible for humans to suffer like that.
I had had a limited experience of the South. My family had driven from Michigan to the Gulf Coast in Florida for warm Easter vacations. This was before the Interstates were completed so we drove some stretches through the South on the blue highways. We saw glimpses of poverty and segregation. But Andersonville was on a highway like none I had ever experienced or imagined.
This book introduced me to experiences that I could barely fathom. It showed me what a safe little world I inhabited and thought was normal. I had had duck n cover in the hallways of my elementary school, had heard a little about the holocaust and Hiroshima. But Andersonville started to actually put some real tarnish on the shiny world that I thought I inhabited.
Listening to the Audible version many years later.
August 18, 2017
The book begins with ira wondering his land early of a morning. Ira is familiar with the land and with the flora in the fauna. Listening to him think about the plants and animals is quite enjoyable. He is probably 50 and has several slaves that help him farm the land. He had three sons but two are already dead in the water and one still serves. As he enjoys his solitude in the country A small party appears, soldiers and surveyors. They are searching out a site to be a prison for union soldiers. As they ride off ira hope they will not choose his land.
I am amazed to find myself at the beginning of chapter 7 and still amidst the details prior to the development of Andersonville.
I continue to progress through the Audible book up to chapter 24 now. Descriptions of the prison camp with a population of over 10,000 are somewhat horrifying although The book is actually still dominated by descriptions of individuals, often their lives prior to the Civil War and their imprisonment.
There are now 22,000 prisoners in Andersonville. The commandant of the prison is of German dissent and still speaks German frequently. This is an interesting addition to the Audible format. He is presented with a strange combination of characteristics: both cruelty but also a desire to make the prison a better facility. The outer wall of the stockade is made with 22 foot tree trunks buried five or 6 feet into the ground and rising approximately 15 feet into the air. At one point the size of the stockade was increased creating about 760 feet of logs that would be removed and could be reused. The commandant had many plans for this lumber but he got up one morning and found that the prisoners had removed the logs themselves by hand and made many improvements in their living conditions with the wood.
There are now 33,000 prisoners in Andersonville. Apparently many of them are Catholic as evidenced by the stories of the Catholic priest who serves the community. It sometimes takes a strong stomach to read the descriptions of the smells of Andersonville. Human waste and rotting bodies both dead and alive. The prison camp could be smelled 2 miles away.
Andersonville: a stench in the nostrils of history. The neighbors of the camp whom we met earlier in the book did on occasion try to improve the circumstances of the prisoners. They brought food that was surplus from their farms. This food was used for those who worked at the camp but not allowed to be distributed to the prisoners. After several reports about the extraordinarily poor conditions were ignored by Richmond, one neighbor set out on a perilous journey to Richmond as the war was drawing to a conclusion and the south was in some chaos.
Coral is an 18-year-old confederate who has lost a foot in the war. He comes across a 20-year-old Union soldier who has escaped from Andersonville with a lost hand. This unlikely pair become friends in a touching story at the end of the book. A confederate father who had lost three sons joins them at the end as they manufacture a peg leg for the lost foot. And then the Union soldier heads off seeking freedom and having found unlikely friendship. This story might just make the whole book worthwhile.
Andersonville existed for 19 months and at one time held as many as 33,000 union prisoners although it was initially intended for only 10,000. It achieved a certain infamy has 14,000 soldiers died there. This book is filled with horror and humanity. The book begins and ends with the man who owned the land where the 27 acre stockade was constructed. He owned slaves and loved nature and felt himself to be a decent man. There is also the story of captain Wirtz who was the commandant of Andersonville and tried he thought to run a good facility even though he was never given the supplies and resources he needed do I send more prisoners then he could handle. He thought he was a good and kind person who followed orders.
This book was published in 1955 and the audible version which I just listened to was recorded 60 years later.
ANGEL!NA - Blue Eyes (official audio)
What literary devices does Mackinlay Kantor use in his short story “Blue Eyes Far Away”?
He wrote more than 30 novels, several set during the American Civil War , and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in for his novel, Andersonville. He also wrote the novel Gettysburg , set during the Civil War. Kantor was born and grew up in Webster City, Iowa , the second child and only son in his family. He had a sister, Virginia. His father, John Martin Kantor, was a native-born Swedish Jew descended from "a long line of rabbis , who posed as a Protestant clergyman".
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