The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta

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Bonfire

Bonfire

The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta
Marc Wortman
ISBN 978-1-58648-482-8
Pub date: 08/11/09
Price: $28.95/36.50 Canada
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
464 pages

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The good folks at PublicAffairs Books sent me a review copy of Marc Wortman’s  The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta viewable on my virtual bookshelves here. I decided to create a shelf specific to “Civil War Sieges” because this book doesn’t quite fit in other categories. That uniqueness is part of its draw.

Full disclosure: This is my usual “pre-read” post where I’ll share some early impressions. Wortman had me before page one because he put six nicely done maps right up front. His poignant introduction left me with no recourse but to read on. A small excerpt:

War is cruelty. Its bloodshed and destruction – the “hard hand of war,” as Sherman really did call it – struck Atlanta with a greater ferocity than it has any American city in history. This is the story of how Atlanta and its people came to be in the direct line of the whirlwind, what one of the besieged city’s Confederate defenders called “a grand holocaust of death.” (Wortman, 2)

Having read the first chapter, I can say that Wortman has a talent for turning a phrase. His depiction of a devastated Atlanta on the morning of September 2, 1864 put me there.

A reeking sulfurous stew that stung the eyes had already settled over the town, filling the railroad cuts, hollows, and streets. Its tendrils wavered along the hillsides and ravines and sifted through the blackened skeletons of what once were houses and factories, railcars and machine shops. It was the silence, though, that shocked people most. Three predawn hours of gut-rattling, earsplitting, and window-shattering explosions and gunfire made the previous night feel like the announcement that the Apocalypse had finally come. But the infernal noise had ended shortly before morning’s light tipped into the eyes of those hunkered down within the earth. (Wortman, 5)

From reading just a few chapters of book, its TOC, and its index, I can add that Wortman’s work emphasizes the broader historical context of the war, covers the importance of railroads during the Civil War, provides insights into the conflict as seen from the perspectives of common soldiers and citizens, and draws upon a substantial amount of primary sources. All of these are pluses.

I look forward to a thorough reading.

Marc Wortman

Marc Wortman

Author Marc Wortman, see his website here,  is a freelance journalist of some acclaim. He received his doctorate in Comparative Literature from Princeton University.

An earlier book published by PublicAffairs Books in May of 2007, The Millionaires’ Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power, also looks like a great read and I recently ordered a copy. Per the publisher, it is in development as a major motion picture. Of note, both of Wortman’s histories are available in Kindle versions which means you can begin reading them in about 40 seconds.

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Kindle 3 DX Announced! Yes I've Pre-ordered Mine

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KindleDX

Publishers. Are you listening?

Many of you know that I was pretty excited about my Kindle 2. See all my previous posts on it here. This week, Amazon.com announced that they will release the new Kindle 3 DX this summer which has a larger form factor (9.7-inch diagonal screen). Other key enhancements include the following:

  • More storage – 3,500 hundred books instead of 1,500 on the Kindle 2
  • Native PDF reader on board where as the Kindle 2 required conversion
  • Accelerometer on board which is the technology that causes the screen to move from portrait to landscape when you rotate the device 90 degrees. VERY COOL! I believe Amazon refers to the feature as an “Auto-Rotating Screen.”

K3Rotated

The DX using the same electronic-ink technology that prints digitally to the screen and is amazingly readable. Images are even more incredible to view than text. And it uses the super fast Sprint national high-speed (3G) data network that Amazon refers to as Whispernet (at no CHARGE!).

Man I wished I had had this when I was in engineering school. You try carrying a ginormous calculus textbook that covers Calc I, II, and III, physics for engineering book, chemistry, statics, and all the lab books around all over campus in a backpack!

Great for work, school, and pleasure. Highly recommend.

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