I became aware of novel The March by E.L. Doctorow early last week while listening to WFMT radio in Chicago. The book has been adapted to a play (http://blogs.wfmt.com/impromptu/), and the cast and director were on the radio. Having read Ragtime by Doctorow, and loving the play by the same name, I knew I must read The March.
The fictional novel takes place in the South during General Sherman’s famous march to the sea during the Civil War. It is a story that resurrects the battle between the States in many ways. The characters are vivid and believable making the story engrossing. As I read the book, I got confused now and then because there are so many characters in it and the story bounces back and forth between them as the armies march and war against each other. Much like Ragtime, Doctorow masterfully connects the many characters who are all embroiled in the war in varying ways.
I was particularly impressed that Doctorow’s perspective on the war encompassed the many sides and factions of the war. He captured the spirit of the Union army and leaders, the Confederate soldiers, the freed slaves, and the displaced Southerners in such a way that it made me see the conflict in a new light.
I was born in the North and lived for a time in the deep South. Given this first-hand experience, I am acutely aware of cultural differences which still exist between the northern and southern halves of our country. Based on personal experience, I feel that wounds which have never healed remain from the conflict between the states so many years ago.
For lovers of history and the human race, I recommend this book. I think there is much to be learned from it. If I have the opportunity, I hope to see the story come to life in the new play. It sounds like a good one.