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on 5 June 1997
No matter what it is called, be it the Civil War, the War Between the States or the War of Southern Secession, the time period 1861-65 was one of the most bloody, destructive and emotionally and ideologically charged periods in U.S. history. No author had a better grasp of it than Union comabt veteran Ambrose Bierce, whose stories in this short but riveting collection are not dry historical abstractions nor a cold analysis of the decisions of senior leaders, but a graphic record of the everday sweat, endless terror and cruel, surreal absurdity of armed conflict. From the eerie "Incident at the Owl Creek Bridge" to the gripping "Parker Adderson, Philosopher," Bierce honed the unique literary and expressive skills that served him well as a corrosive and controversial San Francisco newspaper columnist and astonishingly effective writer on horror and the occult. War to "Bitter Bierce" was the purest expression of the basic animal survival instinct; hardened and warped by endless fear, by the power of technological advances in weaponry and the stress and repeated brutality that turned ordinary human beings into ruthless killers--to the point where ideology and the color of the uniform no longer mattered. Bierce's experiences and deep cynicism led him to believe that human beings could do nothing but create meaningless tragedies. "War is a byproduct of the arts of peace," he was reported to have said, but these stories, a product of a bygone era, remain curiously contemporary because they tell us about everyday people--not unlike ourselves despite more than a century of difference--who fought a war, that, in light of the issues it raised and the forces it unleashed, has never really ended.
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on 21 April 1999
"Bitter Bierce", as he was often dubbed, Ambrose Bierce is one of the few Civil War writers who actually participated in the war. He was one of the first writers to describe the ugliness of war. In his stories he is more interested in the character's role as soldier than in character development. In the 16 stories, most from 1891, including "Chickamauga", "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge", and "A Horseman in the Sky", there are early examples of stream-of- consciousness, and it is obvious how Bierce has influenced another famous war writer, Stephen Crane. Some major themes of the stories are the human capacity of self-deception, war as an image of fate, and a concern with man's depravity. Written in clear, realistic prose, these stories are brutal, pessimistic, satirical, and extremely powerful and draw lines to writers like Melville, Poe, Hemingway, Dos Passos, and Tim O'Brien. A powerful collection of immediate importance, it speaks as clearly to us today as it did 100 years ago!
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on 9 February 2014
Ambrose ha assembled a fine collection of stories, each with a compelling emotional conclusion.

The true genius is his harnessing of the horrific consequences of war which soldiers face, regardless of era.

This collection might as well have been written about Afghanistan or Iraq as it was about the Civil War.
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on 17 September 2013
This was a gift for a man who if he was on Mastermind would answer questions on the American Civil War. The book was very well received and I was told the writing and descriptions first class.
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on 22 June 2015
A couple of good stories with a twist in the end , some of the writing a little difficult to get round very old fashioned .
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on 16 October 2015
Good descriptions of ordinary action by foot soldiers and generals
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on 20 September 1999
From hatred to love, Ambrose Bierse is an author I will never forget. The way he puts his words together amazes me. I loved this book and I will read it again and again and AGAIN!
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on 29 June 2015
tremendous feel about these stories.
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on 4 May 2015
I am enjoying reading these stories.
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on 24 October 2015
Enjoyed the read
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