Picks and Pans Review: Sherman's March

UPDATED 08/15/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/15/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Cynthia Bass

With his famous march to the sea, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman brought the Confederacy to its knees. In this exciting fictional account of Special Order 120—Sherman's plan to end the war by devastating the countryside—Cynthia Bass brings a chapter of Civil War history to life.

Sherman justifies his march as a quest for peace, claiming the only way to end the war is to have civilians feel its sting. He comes across as clever, human, witty—and as the quintessential soldier. Army captain Nicholas J. Whiteman, however, is more reluctant. An illustrator before the war, he struggles to maintain his morality after four years of both boredom and bloodshed. Southern widow Annie Saunders Baker's feelings are not so complicated; compassion turns to hatred after her home is torched by Union soldiers and she joins the flood tide of refugees.

A mesmerizing story, Sherman's March conveys the glory and the horror of battle through the personal experiences of three very different characters. While Nick and Annie undergo profound change, General Sherman holds fast to his image of himself as peacemaker: "Oh well. It's hard to become immortal without being misunderstood. Look at Christ." (Villard, $21)

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