William Tecumseh Sherman’s storied march through the south to free the slaves is wonderfully told by E.L. Doctorow in his The March, richly and clearly illustrated by various persons and stories, placed together, sometimes harshly, sometimes gently, never without us caring about each, giving us yet another view of another war and its hideousness, compassion, wildness and death.
Pearl, a white slave, is particularly fascinating character as is Sherman himself. So are many, many other members of the cast who make up this story whose lives were heroic or callow to say the least.
I couldn’t believe how much I cared about these people and what was happening to them. There were the slaves, those medical people who were were working to patch together the lives and bodies of military men, both on the side of the Union and the Rebels, the freed slaves trying to get to the north and those slaves who couldn’t see their ways to freedom, the inhabitants of the south run through by the armies passing by.
E.L. Doctorow won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner award for The March. Also he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for the National Book Award for this book. Needless to say, others feel his work is a literary achievement of the first rank as well.
Those interested in the history of the Civil War and in the history of the United States might give this book a chance as it more than gives a great view of what took place in a small part of the final days of that piece of the history of our country.