Shadows of Blue & Gray: The Civil War Writings of Ambrose BierceEdited by Brian M. Thomsen
Forge, 290 pp., $24.95
In the introduction to this well-researched collection of Bierce's Civil War fiction and journalism, editor Brian M. Thomsen argues that tagging Bierce as the "foremost literary chronicler of the War Between the States who actually served through its duration" is something of a slight. The visceral pages that follow the introduction ably corroborate Thomsen's claim. Bierce's writings here emanate an eerie light considering the strange story of his disappearance. "One may study how solely to survive, yet, having an imperfect natural aptitude, may fail of proficiency and be early cut off," Bierce writes in "A Sole Survivor," an oracular but far from portentous meditation on fate. "O yes, I am a notable Sole Survivor, and some of my work in that way attracts great attention, mostly my own," he wrote. If he only knew! Shadows of Blue & Gray is a memorable, excellent primer on Bierce, whether the subject is war or himself.