ESCAPING THE CIVIL WAR: A LOOK INTO DESERTION by Samantha James

A small book about desertion on both sides of the forces fighting the American Civil War.  Nicely and impartially told, filled with interesting tidbits about the war and life in the camps that I had not known.  I am not much of a Civil War buff, and have not read very extensively on the subject, so I found much to like about this work.

Here’s something I did not know:  apparently both sides engaged in propaganda issues to encourage fighters from the opposite side to desert!  Who knew.  War is hell.

Easy to read, not academic in tone, geared toward the general reader.  It would be a nice outside reading for the school levels studying the Civil War.  It has been so long since I was in school, I no longer remember when in one’s school life this part of history was taught.

It got me thinking about desertion in general, and what the rate was in WWI and WWII.  So I did what any red-blooded American chick would do — I googled.  Turns out desertion has been an ongoing problem over the millennia.  There is a lot of very interesting material on the subject for all the wars, and it seems that the biggest factors at work in desertion is not fear, as we non-combatants would assume, me being the Consummate Coward.  The biggest issues are worry about and missing family, and the other is poor conditions for the military personnel — poor food, poor sanitary conditions, poor arms supply, and finally, often, boredom.  These seem to be the uniting themes from the  Peloponnesian War right up to today’s skirmishes.

It has a substantial bibliography which made me happy. I would have liked to have seen a ‘Suggested Further Reading’ list, but that is just me being picky.

This is not a long book, and I felt it could have explored the subject more, and offered us more insight, but really, it is a lovely book.

I like books that make me think about the wider issues.  I consider a book a success if it sends me to googleland for additional material.

 

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