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The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
On May 26, 1863, Walt Whitman wrote to his mother: O the sad, sad things I see - the noble young men with legs and arms taken off - the deaths - the sick weakness, sicker than death, that some endure, after amputations...just flickering alive, and O so deathly weak and sick. For nearly three years, Whitman immersed himself in the devastation of the Civil War, tending to th ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published July 27th 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2000)
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Nov 15, 2014 Martha rated it liked it
I will say this first because it cannot be ignored. This American poet was, sadly, a racist - so much so that he could not understand Lincoln showing the same respect for black Union soldiers as he [Lincoln] had for whites. It is hard to reconcile this attitude with the sweeping Whitman verse that seems to include every American. But it didn't include everyone - at least not as far as the poet saw it. This is when the idea that the text stands alone becomes most attractive.

Morris painstakingly
Jun 05, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
Read this book.
Next read Whitman's poem "Come Up from the Fields Father."
Then you will understand the price one pays to transform grief and compassion into great art.
Jun 16, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it
Like many men (and women) of his era, Walt Whitman was defined and shaped by the Civil War. The four years he spent in Washington, nursing and tending to the sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals of the capital, 'saved' him, in his own words - gave him focus and reason and purpose. His entire life, by his own admission somewhat wasteful and aimless until then, became subsumed in his ministration to the poor boys of the Union, and sometimes the Confederacy too.

This is an immensely poignant r
informative, interesting.
Nov 28, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
Walt Whitman visited and comforted wounded soldiers during the Civil War, and their pain and selflessness affected him deeply, a silver lining on a very dark cloud.
Jen Wahl kilmer
Oct 31, 2014 Jen Wahl kilmer rated it it was amazing
Really great history on Whitman in the Civil War. Made me wish I could meet him.
Sep 28, 2010 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a shocking look at medical conditions during the American Civil War. The author traces Walt Whitman's actions during the war and how he served the injured soldiers. In doing this he exposes the true horror of the war, the fact that many more died in hospitals or in camps of wounds and disease than did from battle. The methods and lack of sanitary conditions would shock even the most familiar reader. This is a book every Civil War buff should read.
Willa Grant
Dec 05, 2008 Willa Grant rated it really liked it
This book is about Walt Whitman during the civil war & is very illuminating. I did not know he had ruined his own health in caring for wounded soldiers- I also didn't know that he was a racist but I still came away with a greater respect than I had before for this talented yet flawed man.
Dec 05, 2013 Tangerine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uncle Walt, an American hero! This biography is packed full of information,inspiration and insight. The reader comes to understand the depths of the compassionate man; in this case, one who serves in the hospitals of a war-torn America at the height of the Civil War.
Susan Zinner
Feb 14, 2013 Susan Zinner rated it really liked it
Interesting and highly readable look at how Walt Whitman spent the Civil War (writing, working as a volunteer in a hospital for the Civil War wounded in D.C., etc.).
Nancy Graham
Jan 03, 2009 Nancy Graham rated it it was amazing
A lovely little book recounting how the fresh horror of the Civil War awoke the poet's gentle spirit and gave him new purpose.
Jun 24, 2009 J.M. marked it as to-read
Read portions of this for a college course and bought my own copy as research for a story I haven't written yet.
Michael Clark
Dec 22, 2010 Michael Clark rated it really liked it
Walt and the war, great insight into the later period of his life and how he connected with people.
Ann Marie
Nov 28, 2012 Ann Marie rated it really liked it
3.8 stars. Fascinating glimpse into both Whitman and the war.
Jun 22, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written.
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