A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton

Book reviews and author interviews are a regular feature of This Mighty Scourge.  I approach reviews differently than most reviewers – I read books in their entirety before I review them.  Additionally, I take notes throughout the entire read so I can have an intelligent discussion with the authors I choose to interview.  There are no shortcuts and I pride myself with the finished product: a well thought out and constructed review and most importantly a lively thoughtful interview with the author.  However, every now and then I need a break.  This happened last week when I picked a book off my shelf that I have not read for many years.  I settled in to read the book and enjoy it without having to take notes or think of an upcoming interview.

For this break, I chose “A Stillness at Appomattox” by famed author Bruce Catton.  This is his third and last volume in his trilogy on the Union Army of the Potomac and won the 1954 Pulitzer Prize.  Reading this book brings back memories of my past readings and the things that originally drew me to the American Civil War: quality research, stunning prose and skillful storytelling.  While “Stillness” was not written as a tactical analysis it provides enough detail to keep a serious Civil War student enthralled while being an enjoyable read for a more casual reader.  If you have time for a “break” of your own, I highly recommend reading any of Catton’s trilogy – but especially “A Stillness at Appomattox.”

Now back to reading and note taking…

About Michael Noirot

I grew up in the Central Illinois farming community, of Dunlap. Growing up, I played sports, tinkered with cars and enjoyed photography. While I did well in school, I did not become passionate about history until my early 30's. I have built a large library, of books on early America, politics and the Civil War. I am an avid reader. Fortunately, I have had plenty of opportunities to travel, over the years, and have been to most of the Civil War battlefields. I work while I travel, so more often than not, I am up, in the middle of the night, to get sunrise pictures, or I will be out until well after dark, exploring Civil War battlefields. I have other hobbies, and passions, that I really enjoy. Number one on the list would be guitar. I play my guitars on a regular basis, and enjoy the Bluegrass, and Contemporary Christian (CCM) genres. I play a style of guitar, called FLATPICKING, where using a flat pick, you play lead solos, similar to the way a fiddle would have been played during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Laura, my wife, and I also enjoy scuba diving, travel and spending time at our property, in the country. Lastly, we spend as much time with our families, as possible. Thanks for stopping by.
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4 Responses to A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton

  1. MattK says:

    Last week, as a change up as well, I started listening to Vol1, “Mr Lincoln’s Army”. -makes for entertaining and easy listening. :-)

  2. Ajhall says:

    Catton is in a league of his own. One can rationally argue that it was his writing that kept interest in the Civil War alive and well in the era before the Ken Burns/PBS rebirth. Catton’s narrative skills are what make him so accessible across the generations. If you want to help someone develop an interest in the Civil War, introduce them to Catton.

  3. rikker_2001 says:

    I’ve had that three volume set for forty years now, and it is still one of my favorite reads. I agree with Ron that Bruce could tell one heck of a story, which also had the effect of making the books seem more personal. I also like the other three book set, The Coming Fury, Terrible Swift Sword, and Never Call Retreat, a somewhat broader view of the different theaters of the war.

  4. kevinmi says:

    The part where Catton normally loses me is the in depth political discussions. The language coloring the battles are well done and very rich. Often you feel the ground shake from the artillery and the smoke from the rifles.

    I actually prefer the Shelby Foote series. Due to the lower volume of politics. I understand that the political side is important to the story as well.

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