4.01 (438 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


With a new introduction by Thomas Keneally. 'The best novel of the Civil War since The Red Badge of Courage' Newsweek As the Civil War tears America apart, General Stonewall Jackson leads a troop of Confederate soldiers on a long trek towards the battle they believe will be a conclusive victory. Through their hopes, fears and losses, Keneally searingly conveys both the drama and mundane hardship of war, and brings to life one of the most emotive episodes in American more

Product details

  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 130 x 194 x 28mm | 322.05g
  • Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Sceptre
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Map
  • 0340431032
  • 9780340431030
  • 197,094

Review Text

Keneally's best novel yet, ripest fruit of an imagination that has been grinding for years in an effort to energize history within its fiction - sometimes head-on. sometimes obliquely, but never with quite full success. Success has come. The book is about the American Civil War, about a few soldiers - Usaph, Gus, Cates, Colonel Lafcadio Wheat - belonging to the Shenandoah Volunteers that make up a section of the "Stonewall" troops under the command of General Tom Jackson. Jackson here is a nearly empyrean figure who brilliantly, woefully outclasses his Union counterpart McClellan; and by using Jackson as a near deity-figure, Keneally is able, very deftly, to give an overall shape (the shape of military tactics) to the senseless death of mere boys. Small scenes, then, can be concentrated on - and they range from the heartbreakingly idyllic (two Union soldiers, two Shenandoah Volunteers sitting down for a rest together in a glade) to the gruesome (limb-flinging carnage among the morning lupins at Antietam). But Keneally keeps his eye on the masterful Jackson, and the dartings of strategy - loops and salients - make an almost beautiful and plastic frame around the awfullest of particulars. A sub-plot involving a Union-spy pair - a British journalist, a Confederate nurse - is of less import; and Keneally occasionally overuses Americanisms. Yet these are minor objections in a book that keeps the reading heart astir simply by its resonant, plain eloquence, Tolstoyan at its best: "They were certainly proud but had never fought before today. This evening it seemed that God had been saving this hour specially for them. For if they looked at the sunset one minute, there was nothing but a proper golden radiance above a black line of forest. And the next there were batteries galloping out into the open to get an uninterrupted line of fire on them, and there were long lines of men, who didn't seem any better dressed or any more rushed than laborers, moving out of the woods there on that ridge." A grave and breathtaking book, a model historical novel by a writer growing ever better. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

'A fine and compelling novel' Financial Times 'It compels admiration over and over for its energy and its insight into human character' Spectator 'Deserves comparison with the great war novels of the last hundred years' Observer 'Such a magnificent book that I count it a privilege to read and keep' Books and Bookmenshow more

About Thomas Keneally

Thomas Keneally began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty novels since. They include Schindler's Ark, which won the Booker Prize in 1982 and was subsequently made into the film Schindler's List, and The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates and Gossip From The Forest, each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His most recent novels are The Daughters Of Mars, which was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize in 2013, and Shame and the Captives. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including his memoir Homebush Boy, Searching for Schindler and Australians. He is married with two daughters and lives in more

Rating details

438 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 33% (145)
4 41% (181)
3 21% (90)
2 4% (16)
1 1% (6)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X