Reveille in Washington: 1860-1865
By HARPERS, $3.50
ALTHOUGH the Atlantic has already shown its appreciation of this book by publishing four long extracts from it as a serial, it is such an excellent piece of work that one feels it should be accorded the deserved compliment of a review. Miss Leech has written what purports to be the story of life in Washington during the Civil War, but her picture is much more than that. It is not a history of the Civil War, but as most of the prominent actors in that struggle were at one time or another in the Washington scene, and as she records the impact of events on the public and responsible officials in Washington, one gets a picture and a story by no means confined in the real sense to the capital itself.
Having just finished reading four volumes of Sandburg’s Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, this reviewer cannot help comparing Reveille in Washington with Mr. Sandburg’s work. The latter is infinitely more detailed. It is also more repetitious. Miss Leech is eminently distinguished in her power to omit the irrelevant and to pick and choose the significant. Her book is fair and accurate. She is perfectly aware of all the skulduggery, baseness, and cowardice which were often apparent in the conduct of the war and of the government, but she is also aware of the nobility and splendor of some of its heroes and heroines. Her careful study of the social and political life at the time has extended over a term of years, but the accumulation of data has not lessened her lively and picturesque style. The book is well written throughout, and in places superbly so.
R. E. D.