In a beautifully written, deeply researched and profoundly thoughtful book that may earn her the title of the finest Civil War scholar in the United States, Harvard’s new president, Drew Faust, takes the reader on an emotive and analytical tour of death in Civil War America. She places us right on the battlefield, where we watch as soldiers die, nurses soothe the wounded and comrades write letters to their families. We see the chaos through the eyes of combat survivors as they bury the dead and wonder why they still live. Faust brings us into the homes of those who lost brothers, fathers, husbands and sons. We see Americans North and South combing newspaper reports of the dead and missing; we see them struggling to find mourning dresses, which were ever more scarce, especially in the South.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).