The Wall Street Journal has excerpted a chapter from Russell Bonds' new book, "War Like the Thunderbolt." This is accompanied by an book review by Winston Groom - which seems to have been written by one of Groom's characters, Forrest Gump. It's accompanied by a similarly distracting comments section ("I'm no expert but I got this a few years ago from watching BookTV and I forget the author's name...").
But good for Russell - two placements in the Journal, three cheers. Could it be his publisher, Westholme, has some juice?
Graced with an advanced copy, I can say that this is beautifully written narrative history. It is exactly what the Civil War nonfiction buyer is looking for. Bonds is careful in his research, artistic in his assembly of testimony, deliberate in his analysis, cautious in judgement, gentle with reputations, measured in his tempo, and interesting throughout.
Narrative history is not for me. This book is so well done, it takes away all the easy criticisms a typical narrative reading offers and puts me up against the bedrock, generic issues of narrative structure per se. That has nothing to do with Russll Bonds, however, and can be saved for a future meditation.
Meanwhile I continue to read, enjoy, and highly recommend this book.