This introductory chapter provides a brief background of the book, arguing that the writings from the past should not entirely become the basis of conclusions about real events. This applies especially to writers who are self-conscious about their powers and those who are writing publicly for large readerships. The chapter presents five of the most significant narrators of the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ambrose Bierce, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. It also describes what can happen when discussions of historical detail complement verbal artistry.
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