carol bundy author nature of sacrifice civil war boston heroes  


the nature of sacrifice a biography of charles russell lowell jr. book cover

What are we dying for, and is the sacrifice worth it? is a question soldiers always ponder in war. In THE NATURE OF SACRIFICE: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64, Carol Bundy tells the remarkable story of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr.’s brief, intense life, and eloquently explores the psychological and social forces that turned an idealistic young man into a soldier who killed, a commander who led, and a son and husband who risked his life on behalf of a greater good. Set against the backdrop of one solder’s failed promise, THE NATURE OF SACRIFICE is also a lively history of the abolitionist, Transcendentalist Boston into which Lowell was born.


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Look for an article on
Charles Russell Lowell,
“The Transcendental Cavalier”
in the December issue of
Civil War Times.

The Nature of Sacrifice is a beautifully rendered portrait of a remarkable young man who became a still more remarkable soldier in the crucible of the American Civil War. It is also a timely reminder of the real cost of combat in any era and marks the debut of a first-class biographer.
—Geoffrey C. Ward, author of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

“Carol Bundy's biography of her great-great-great-uncle, Charles Russell Lowell, … ranks in quality with the better pages of such masters as Shelby Foote and Bruce Catton.
—Edwin Yoder, Washington Post

“In this clear-eyed, unsentimental biography, Carol Bundy introduces us to a genuine Civil War hero, Charles Russell Lowell. The transformation of an idealistic Harvard student into a brave, intelligent and tough cavalry officer is a riveting story. Her description of a cavalry charge conveys the experience better than any Civil War film, and her portrait of Boston society in the mid-nineteenth century is just as finely etched. This book is not just for Civil War buffs.” —Frances FitzGerald

Rarely in Union narratives do you find so compelling and romantic a tale on which to hang a bit of history. I saw a biography of Charlie Lowell as a chance to tell the story of the Civil War from the point of view of the children of the Transcendentalists: steeped in idealism, these young men yearned for practical applications. Lowell believed that the world advances by “impossibilities achieved.” The American experiment in democracy was one; the abolition of slavery another. New England has never recovered from their loss.

A stunning biography of a young man from one of America’s most celebrated families who quickly rose to the rank of colonel in the Union cavalry and died, at age 29, from wounds suffered in a charge at Cedar Creek . . . Bundy has examined an abundance of evidence in her reconstruction of the life of this most remarkable fellow. . . [This is] an enduring and often lovely monument to his memory.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

As Louis Menand, in The Metaphysical Club, explored the war’s impact on Oliver Wendell Holmes, here first-time author Bundy examines the life of another Boston Brahmin of the time, and Bundy’s is easily the best account we have of the life of the brilliant, magnetic and tragic Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., examining how he became a martyr for the cause of freedom . . . Bundy does an excellent job of telling Lowell’s tale and explaining the ethic of selfless sacrifice out of which he emerged. This is an admirable life of an admirable man.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Carol Bundy's book, which I read with great interest and great pleasure, offers rich insight into a young man at war. It shows compellingly how the experience of military life and of combat changed him and his relationships to those around him. I also very much appreciated Bundy’s vivid portrait of the impact of the Civil War on a northern community.
—Drew Gilpin Faust, Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

“[The] theme of sacrifice to redeem the nation from slavery is brilliantly explored and movingly expounded in Carol Bundy’s notable biography of Lowell, “The Nature of Sacrifice,” her first book. [It] is not just a model of historical research, but is also written with great style.”
—Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

“In her fine biography, The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., Carol Bundy has rendered a great service to general readers and Civil War scholars alike … The Nature of Sacrifice is a skillfully written biography. … and Carol Bundy has made a valuable contribution to both Civil War history and American biography.
—Richard Miller, Civil War Book Review




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