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Last of the blue and gray : old men, stolen glory, and the mystery that outlived the Civil War
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Fiction/Biography Profile
U.S. Civil War veterans
U.S. Civil War
War memories
Military history
American history
Minnesota - Midwest (U.S.)
Texas - South (U.S.)
Time Period
-- 19th-20th century
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  Library Journal Review

Serrano (Washington correspondent, Los Angeles Times; One of Ours: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing) tells the little-known story of the men who were apparently the last two surviving Civil War veterans, one Union and one Confederate, and their hope to live to celebrate the war's centennial in 1961. In telling their stories, exploring their postwar lives and the ways they responded to the war over time, Serrano seeks to paint a bigger picture of how Civil War veterans remembered their experiences, particularly through the various reunions and national commemorations leading up to the centennial. Unfortunately, the book comes across as somewhat unfocused at times, creating the feeling that Serrano has only scratched the surface of the compelling issues he seeks to address. VERDICT Civil War buffs will find this book enjoyable as it tells a story that is not well known, but readers wanting a more in-depth look at the lives of Civil War veterans should read James Marten's Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America or similar works.-Michael C. Miller, Austin P.L. & Austin History Ctr., TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

As late as the 1950s, two veterans of the bloodiest conflict on American soil were still living. Or rather, one vet and one fraud, both very, very old. In this quintessentially American tale, Serrano (One of Ours), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, marshals a formidable amount of research and a winning prose style to solve the mystery of which man-Union loyalist and drummer boy Albert Woolson, or rebel soldier and forage master Walter Williams-was the real deal. Both were well into their 100s as the Civil War centennial drew near, and neither was lucid enough to be counted on to provide dependable testimonies of their time at war. Adding to the uncertainty was the fact that many soldiers lied about personal details in order to serve. Serrano's grand narrative brings a wealth of American history into its scope and features plenty of larger-than-life characters, cussin', hollerin', smoking cigars, and chewing tobacco, and proudly donning their wartime uniforms. Serrano masterfully maintains the tension throughout, until he finally reveals the truth (which some still find controversial). Told with clarity and skillfully paced, Serrano's story of two old men and the mythology that grew up around them is intimate, expansive, and thoroughly entertaining. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p>Richard Serrano, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times , pens a story of two veterans. In the late 1950s, as America prepared for the Civil War centennial, two very old men lay dying. Albert Woolson, 109 years old, slipped in and out of a coma at a Duluth, Minnesota, hospital, his memories as a Yankee drummer boy slowly dimming. Walter Williams, at 117 blind and deaf and bedridden in his daughter's home in Houston, Texas, no longer could tell of his time as a Confederate forage master. The last of the Blue and the Gray were drifting away; an era was ending.<br> <br> Unknown to the public, centennial officials, and the White House too, one of these men was indeed a veteran of that horrible conflict and one according to the best evidence nothing but a fraud. One was a soldier. The other had been living a great, big lie.</p>
Table of Contents
1Two Old Soldiersp. 1
2Reunionp. 7
3Old Age and Stolen Valorp. 27
4Albert Woolsonp. 43
5Walter Williamsp. 61
6Old Men in Bluep. 79
7Old Men in Grayp. 87
8Centennialp. 97
9Last in Bluep. 109
10Debunked?p. 123
11In his Memory-Clouded Mindp. 145
12Last in Grayp. 167
13Of the Dead, Speak No Evilp. 177
Postscriptp. 193
Sourcesp. 195
Indexp. 215
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