Bright Starry Banner: A Novel of the Civil War

Overview

“The fascinating story of a ferocious three-day battle, among the bloodiest ever fought on US soil. Six months before Gettysburg, there was Stones River, near Nashville, in which 44,000 Union troops and 37,700 Confederates hammered away at each other, savagely and unremittingly, and yet so indecisively that at the end, both sides could claim victory. . . . Carter’s theme––war is hell––is familiar enough, yet ever fresh when rendered, as it is here, with the kind of creative force that amounts to a sense of ...
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Overview

“The fascinating story of a ferocious three-day battle, among the bloodiest ever fought on US soil. Six months before Gettysburg, there was Stones River, near Nashville, in which 44,000 Union troops and 37,700 Confederates hammered away at each other, savagely and unremittingly, and yet so indecisively that at the end, both sides could claim victory. . . . Carter’s theme––war is hell––is familiar enough, yet ever fresh when rendered, as it is here, with the kind of creative force that amounts to a sense of mission. Buffs will love it.”––Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Monumentally ambitious. . . . For a depiction of war, this is as good as it gets.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Carter brings not only Stones River, but also all Civil War conflict to life in a manner that no novelist since Josepeh Pennell has done. . . . It’s a wonderful book all the way around.”––Peter Cozzens, author of No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River

Bright Starry Banner transports me into the thick of the Stones River campaign and enables me to see the tragic battle and its personalities in a new and dramatic way. Bravo!”––David J. Eicher, author of The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War

With Bright Starry Banner, Alden R. Carter adds an invaluable chapter to the war’s legend, presenting not only a great battle, but also the terror and courage of the men who fought it.

Alden R. Carter’s nine novels and 20 nonfiction titles have won numerous honors, including six ALA Best Book awards.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Carter's stirring fictional account of the pivotal Battle of Stones River crackles with action, suspense, and drama. The prominent historical characters fairly leap off the pages, and the common soldiers resonate with a potent humanity as they engage in acts of heroism, cowardice, and simple faith on an incredibly bloody battlefield. A must-read for Civil War buffs and fans of realistic historical fiction.
Gary W. Gallagher
Readers enamored of military action are most likely to find Bright Starry Banner to their taste. As in The Killer Angels, women and African Americans play virtually no role in Carter's story, which hews to the bloody work of white soldiers slaughtering each other. Carter delivers an intelligible narrative of Stones River, avoiding nonmilitary digressions and alternating between Union and Confederate perspectives to describe the tactical ebb and flow. He spends most of his time with generals and their staffs, officers who little resemble the upright Victorians of Civil War memoirs.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
This monumentally ambitious novel covers in exquisite and graphic detail one of the bloodiest two-day engagements of the Civil War. Carter, the author of nine YA novels and 20 works of nonfiction, is confident of his materials in his first adult novel, masterfully describing massive military maneuvers while also shifting to the viewpoint of individual after individual caught up in the horrific action. The Battle of Stones River on the outskirts of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is not a clash as familiar as Gettysburg or Antietam, but it was a compelling, brutal episode in Civil War history. From December 31, 1862, to the morning of January 2, 1863, the Union forces under William S. Rosecrans engaged the troops of Confederate commander Braxton Bragg. When the smoke cleared, both sides declared victory. Among the combatants was Ambrose Bierce, at age 20 a topographical engineer with Rosecrans, who witnessed horrors he later would write about: "The two lines have achieved a frightful equilibrium in the trading of death-an exchange that, if left undisturbed, might eventually lead to the last two men in the world killing each other." In a series of brilliant vignettes, Carter pays homage to Bierce's tales of the war such as A Horseman in the Sky. While Carter provides backstory for his many characters, he lacks a major love story that might help the novel rival such commercial successes as Cold Mountain. For a depiction of war, however, this is as good as it gets. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran YA author Carter's first adult title is the fascinating story of a ferocious three-day battle, among the bloodiest ever fought on US soil. No, not Gettysburg. Six months before Gettysburg, there was Stones River, near Nashville, in which 44,000 Union troops and 37,700 Confederates hammered away at each other, savagely and unremittingly, and yet so indecisively that at the end both sides could claim victory and make a case for it. Casualties for the Union army numbered 13,200; for the Confederate, somewhat fewer-10,500-but when the Rebs left the field, the Yanks were still there. As was the case so often during this war, Stones River furnished a bitter contrast between the leaders and those led; between incredible acts of commitment and bravery and stunning ineptitude-an imbalance Carter places at the heart of his tale.. (No fictitious protagonists here: all Carter's important characters are for real.) At the head of the Union's Army of the Cumberland was Major General William Rosecrans, a sometimes brilliant but dangerously erratic field commander; his opposite number was Major General Braxton Bragg, surely one of the least popular, most blunder-prone figures in the Confederate army. In both camps, thirst for rank was virtually unquenchable, envy and jealousy the inevitable precursors to the virulent back-biting that all too often got men killed. Among the Confederates, there was that extra, cultural testiness inherent in the idea of Southern honor. "My God," says one cavalier in a moment of agonized insight, "we are violent men . . . No wonder our generals risk such headlong attacks and our men carry them out with such utter disregard for life." Carter's theme-war is hell-isfamiliar enough, yet ever fresh when rendered, as it is here, with the kind of creative force that amounts to a sense of mission. Buffs will love it; the audience could go wider. Agent: Bill Reiss
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569473559
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Named to the Wisconsin Library Association's list "Notable Wisconsin Authors" in 2002, Alden Carter joined the company of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Carl Sandburg, Sterling North, George Shannon, and Kevin Henkes among the state's finest writers. His nine novels, twenty nonfiction titles, and six picture books for children and young adults have won numerous honors including six ALA Best Book Awards.

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