Out of the Storm

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Civil War histories have become commonplace, and while many of them are written only for scholars, a number aim at wider audiences whose interest in the exciting stories which have sprung from this conflagration remains strong more than a century after the last shot was fired in 1865. Noah Trudeau’s analysis of the last months of this bloody conflict falls in the latter category. Trudeau describes the final battles in meticulous detail, skipping back and forth from Northern to Southern military and political headquarters and peppering his accounts with the words of common soldiers and civilians affected by the feints and drives of those in command.

Though the first third of his account focuses on events leading up to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Trudeau does not stop at that point. Instead, he recounts not only the events in Virginia but also those at Bennett House in North Carolina, where Joe Johnston’s Confederate army surrendered to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. He goes on to regale readers with numerous vignettes of post-surrender activities out in the Western regions, as well as exploits of the defeated Confederate government; the assassination of Lincoln and the retaliation of U.S. political and military leaders against John Wilkes Booth and other conspirators; the grand review of the Union Army in Washington, D. C.; the odyssey of the rebel warship C. S. S. Shenandoah,...

(The entire section is 406 words.)