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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 442

Andersonville by Mackinlay Kantor tells the story of the notorious Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp built in Georgia in 1863 to house the Confederacy's prisoners during the American Civil War. This camp was overcrowded and full of disease, and some of the most important quotes in the book relate to the camp's poor conditions and the drastic measures prisoners took to survive.

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From the beginning, the author makes a point of describing the Georgian climate as harsh—perhaps a poorly chosen place to build a prisoner-of-war camp.

Often in early December the north wind beats thinly, steadily across the hillocks of Georgia; it comes like a sickle cutting unseen but felt, and the edge is rawly mean.

When the prison is finally built for the "damn Yankees," Howell Cobb tries to think of a synonym to describe it.

Had he not a synonym for the cartouche of verbiage? What did you call a prisoner except a prisoner? What did you call a prison except a prison? Might you term Andersonville anything other than Andersonville? Call it mire, muck, sink, morass, dump, dung, cesspool, chamber pot, hog-wallow, cow-pie? Somewhere there must be proper synonyms.

As food begins to run short, prisoners start to find all sorts of ways to feed themselves. Some prisoners eat their own feces, and others diet on raw animals and birds.

He was trying to batter the birds with his jacket, trying to swaddle them with the cloth; even as Eben looked the man swaddled one. He wadded the garment around the bird, made a ball of it, he killed the swallow by crushing the jacket-wad beneath his feet. Then he sank down on his...

(The entire section contains 442 words.)

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