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The March

Bacall, Lauren]; Doctorow, E. L.

8,308 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375506713 / ISBN 13: 9780375506710
Published by Random House, New York, 2005
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Sanctuary Books, A.B.A.A. (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Cloth; dust jacket; 8vo; pp. 363. Inscribed by the author to Lauren Bacall, "To Betty Bacall, my favorite actor & dear friend / with love, Edgar Doctorow / Oct 6, 2005." (Lauren Bacall was born in the Bronx as Betty Joan Perske, and only close friends and loved ones used her real name.) Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) was an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. Howard Hawks (director, producer, screenwriter) changed her first name to Lauren, and Perske adopted "Bacall," a variant of her mother's maiden name (of Romanian Jewish descent), as her screen surname. The young Lauren Bacall, worked as an usher at the St. James Theatre, and as a fashion model. She made her acting debut on Broadway in 1942, at age 17, as a walk-on in "Johnny 2x4." By then, she lived with her mother on Bank Street, Greenwich Village, and in 1942 she was crowned Miss Greenwich Village. Though Diana Vreeland is often credited with "discovering" Bacall, putting her on the cover of "Vogue" in 1943, much of the iconography surrounding Bacall she cultivated herself with the help of Nancy Hawks, Howard Hawks's wife, who advised Bacall on clothing, elegance, manners, and taste. Even Bacall's trademark voice required arduous training -- at Hawks's suggestion, Bacall worked with a voice coach to make her voice lower and deeper. Her screen debut as the leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film "To Have and Have Not" (1944) made her an instant star. She married Bogart in 1945, and continued in the film noir genre alongside him in "The Big Sleep" (1946), "Dark Passage" (1947), and "Key Largo" (1948). She starred in the romantic comedies "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, and "Designing Woman" (1957) with Gregory Peck. She co-starred with John Wayne in his final film, "The Shootist" (1976). Bacall worked on Broadway in musicals, earning Tony Awards for "Applause" (1970) and "Woman of the Year" (1981). Bookseller Inventory # JC11750

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The March

Publisher: Random House, New York

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army fought off Confederate forces and lived off the land, pillaging the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, demolishing cities, and accumulating a borne-along population of freed blacks and white refugees until all that remained was the dangerous transient life of the uprooted, the dispossessed, and the triumphant. Only a master novelist could so powerfully and compassionately render the lives of those who marched.

The author of Ragtime, City of God, and The Book of Daniel has given us a magisterial work with an enormous cast of unforgettable characters–white and black, men, women, and children, unionists and rebels, generals and privates, freed slaves and slave owners. At the center is General Sherman himself; a beautiful freed slave girl named Pearl; a Union regimental surgeon, Colonel Sartorius; Emily Thompson, the dispossessed daughter of a Southern judge; and Arly and Will, two misfit soldiers.

Almost hypnotic in its narrative drive, The March stunningly renders the countless lives swept up in the violence of a country at war with itself. The great march in E. L. Doctorow’s hands becomes something more–a floating world, a nomadic consciousness, and an unforgettable reading experience with awesome relevance to our own times.

Review:

As the Civil War was moving toward its inevitable conclusion, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched 60,000 Union troops through Georgia and the Carolinas, leaving a 60-mile-wide trail of death, destruction, looting, thievery and chaos. In The March, E.L. Doctorow has put his unique stamp on these events by staying close to historical fact, naming real people and places and then imagining the rest, as he did in Ragtime.

Recently, the Civil War has been the subject of novels by Howard Bahr, Michael Shaara, Charles Frazier, and Robert Hicks, to name a few. Its perennial appeal is due not only to the fact that it was fought on our own soil, but also that it captures perfectly our long-time and ongoing ambivalence about race. Doctorow examines this question extensively, chronicling the dislocation of both southern whites and Negroes as Sherman burned and destroyed all that they had ever known. Sherman is a well-drawn character, pictured as a crazy tactical genius pitted against his West Point counterparts. Doctorow creates a context for the march: "The brutal romance of war was still possible in the taking of spoils. Each town the army overran was a prize... There was something undeniably classical about it, for how else did the armies of Greece and Rome supply themselves?"

The characters depicted on the march are those people high and low, white and black, whose lives are forever changed by war: Pearl, the newly free daughter of a white plantation owner and one of his slaves, Colonel Sartorius, a competent, remote, almost robotic surgeon; several officers, both Union and Confederate; two soldiers, Arly and Will, who provide comic relief in the manner of Shakespeare's fools until, suddenly, their roles are not funny anymore.

Doctorow has captured the madness of war in his description of the condition of a dispossessed Southern white woman: "What was clear at this moment was that Mattie Jameson's mental state befitted the situation in which she found herself. The world at war had risen to her affliction and made it indistinguishable." And later, " This was not war as adventure, nor war for a solemn cause, it was war at its purest, a mindless mass rage severed from any cause, ideal, or moral principle."

As we have come to expect, Doctorow puts the reader in the picture; never more so than in recalling "The March" and letting us see it as a cautionary tale for our times. --Valerie Ryan

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