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Eye of the Storm: A Civil War Odyssey [Paperback]

By Robert Sneden (Author)
Our Price $ 17.00  
Retail Value $ 20.00  
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Item Number 153119  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.3" Width: 7.98" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   1.99 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 7, 2002
Publisher   Free Press
ISBN  0684863669  
EAN  9780684863665  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Outline ReviewAfter the attack on Fort Sumter, Robert Knox Sneden decided to do his part to save the Union, signing on with the 40th New York Volunteers. Owing to his skills as an artist, Private Sneden was recruited to become a cartographer within a few months. And owing to his skills as both artist and cartographer, Civil War buffs can enjoy Eye of the Storm.

During his time in the army, Sneden kept a detailed diary and made hundreds of sketches in the field. In 1994, four scrapbooks in a Connecticut bank vault were found to contain some 800 drawings, the vast majority of them based on his original sketches. Soon after, a 5,000-page illustrated memoir based on Sneden's diaries was also discovered. Selections from the scrapbooks and memoir make up this marvelous book, which offers firsthand accounts of the action of the Peninsula Campaign and Second Bull Run--as well as the monotony of soldiering between battles. Perhaps the most compelling portion of Eye of the Storm is Sneden's descriptions of Andersonville, the Confederacy's notorious prison camp:

September 7, 1864: Fine weather, but very hot, 110 degrees anywhere in the shade. This terrible heat helps to kill us off at the rate of 100 per day inside the stockade. Dead men may be seen by the score lying all along the brook which runs through the filthy swamp, while others are tearing off their soiled clothes to get thread from the seams, or patches to put on their own ragged clothes.

Sneden's account lacks the typical Victorian flowery prose, as he writes with an almost analytical detachment about the horrors around him. This detachment lends an immediacy to his memoir, bringing home the brutality of the War Between the States. Dozens of Sneden's detailed drawings illustrate the text, making this a must-have for Civil War buffs. Highly recommended. --Sunny Delaney

Product Description

Eye of the Storm is one of the most important Civil War documents ever published. Four tattered scrapbooks found in a Connecticut bank vault in 1994 have yielded a treasure trove of more than five hundred watercolors and maps that vividly depict America's great national conflict. These scrapbooks, and the accompanying memoir, are the life's work of a long-forgotten Union private and mapmaker named Robert Knox Sneden, who witnessed some of the war's greatest campaigns and spent more than a year in Southern prison camps, including Andersonville.

A must-have for anyone interested in the subject, Robert Knox Sneden's Eye of the Storm is a permanent addition to Civil War literature and art, and a lasting achievement in human expression of the horrors of war.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not Just Another Civil War Journal...  Apr 2, 2005
I hesitate to rate any book five stars, but will do so when it satisfied all my expectations and gives me far more. Pvt. Sneden's journal does exactly that.

In the context of civil war journals, in my humble opinion, it rises above many others for three reasons. First, Pvt. Sneden is simply an excellant writer. Not surprisingly, the journal is no example of modern grammatical rules, but of course, that would not be expected in this context. Still, I found Pvt. Sneden to be one of those writers with a gift for painting a picture in words. It is one of those books, unlike many historical primary sources, that you do not find yourself rereading parts to try to figure out what the writer is trying to say. Secondly, Pvt. Sneden had an extremely unusual perspective for a private soldier. He acted as a map maker and had been attached to headquarters units for most of the period covered in the book. This allowed him to comment based on many perspectives as he traveled through multiple commands in each campaign. Likewise, he gave some insight to the conduct of the general officers he worked for mapping. Thirdly, Pvt. Sneden Had a hobby of drawing pictures of almost anything he tripped over on the battlefield. The analogy I would draw would are to people these days who always have a camera and will take a picture of anything that strikes them as an interesting shot.

Besides those positive aspects of this book specific to Pvt. Sneden, there are two other aspects of this book that makes it exceptional in my opinion. First, as to primary sources, I would submit that most readers would agree that the most important factor in evaluating them is veracity. In other words, the memoirs of a politician I would guess would never be taken on face value due to the bias of the author. In this book, even describing his time as prisoner, Pvt. Sneden in a very large seemingy presents a vey balenced picture of his experiences. There might be some comments put in after the war for dramatic effect, but the editors flag them. Even flagged as possible exagerations, Pvt. Sneden established his credibility to a sufficient degree with me that I would not so easily disregard such comments.

Secondly, the editors do an excellant job providing the backdrop to Pvt. Sneden's journey through the war.

In my humble opinion, this book should recognized as excellant primary source material writing about the period. Likewise, I believe it well worth the cost of anyone with an interest in the period.
Great Primary Source Material  Jan 10, 2005
The finding of primary source material is of great value in the field of history as it can give us a glimpse into the past through actual eyewitnesses. This book gives us a chance to see the American Civil War through the eyes of Robert Sneden of the 40th New York Regiment. His skills as a cartographer produced some remarkable depictions of some of the battlefields, land features and prison scenes that alone are worth studying. As the compilers of this book stated, his memoirs and drawings were quite substantial.

Sneden's observations offer us a glimpse into camp life (though he was spared most of the front line activity), some of the personalities of the war, the unfolding events of battle and perhaps most descriptive of all, life in the numerous prisons he stayed in, including those in Richmond, Salisbury (though briefly), and Andersonville. Once again it is his remarkable sketches and drawings of these places that capture our attention, though of course his written descriptions can be quite vivid and detailed, especially concerning some of the gruesome features of battle and prison life.

Sneden wasn't so much writing a history as he was detailing his day to day activities and observations during his time of service and captivity during the war. But it is these types of accounts that can offer new insights into historic events that we otherwise may never have known about and in Sneden's case especially his drawings. Of course even these types of sources need to be carefully scrutinized for factual errors as well.
you are there  Oct 30, 2002
Do you ever read book and have trouble putting it down? For Civil War buffs this is it. While RK Snedon rambles on a bit at times, there can be no better insight into the maelstrom that was the Civil War. The drawings are fascinating as is the courage and positive attitude of an individual faced with obscene circumstances.
Eye of the Storm  Nov 28, 2001
I always look for first hand information in journals. These are the journals by Priv. Sneden. The pictures that he drew are wonderful and his first person accounts of his journey throughout the Civil War are sad & touching. It is worth it all to read a first person account of his stay at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Both his books, "Eye of the Storm" (his journal) and "Images of the Storm" (drawings of his journey) are prized books to treasure and will be passed on through generations. What a wonderful gift Priv. Sneden left behind.
My heart aches for this wonderful young man who realized nothing
from his legacy.
New glasses  Jul 31, 2001
Eye of the Storm is a rare opportunity to see a new yet original view of camp and prison life. You will find yourself drawn to Sneden's original illustrations time and time again. The more you study them the more you see. It makes you want to see more and larger versions of his drawings. Brayn and Lankford have done a good job in not tainting Sneden's work while at the same time pointing out some important historical questions. I marked over twenty parts to use in reference and speeches.

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