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The March by E. L. Doctorow
The March of this novel's title refers to General William Tecumseh Sherman's Civil War march from Atlanta to the sea and then north through the Carolinas, burning and destroying both military targets and whole cities. The Union troops destroyed everything in their path, taking what they wanted, and attempted to demoralize the Southerners into unconditional surrender. E. L. Doctorow (Ragtime, Billy Bathgate) brings to life the effect this march had on both Union troops and the Southerners whose lives it uprooted, telling the story of both historical and fictional characters. These include Sherman himself, Pearl, a light-skinned freed slave who joins the crowd that accompanies the Union troops, Colonel Wrede Sartorius, a Union surgeon whom Pearl assists, Emily Thompson, the daughter of a Southern judge who falls for Sartorius, and Will and Arly, two Confederate soldiers who switch allegiances between armies back and forth. The March has received positive reviews with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch saying "The March, in the stunning richness of its characters and the pungent depth of its detail, evokes what becomes almost a Chaucerian pilgrimage, its route determined not by religious history but by the feints and assaults of Sherman and by the vagaries of war."