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November 04, 1990

THE CIVIL WAR NOTEBOOK OF DANIEL CHISHOLM, edited by W. Springer Menge and J. August Shimrak (Ballantine: $9.95). The recent PBS series has sparked a renewed interest in the Civil War, and these letters and diary entries by two soldiers in the Army of the Potomac reveal the wretched daily grind beneath the strategic maneuvers. Like soldiers in any war, Daniel Chisholm and Samuel Clear were preoccupied with the tedious problems of daily survival: Mud, disease, weather, appalling food and the horrors of battle outweighed any ideological considerations. ("The rain is falling nearly all the time, our camp is very muddy . . . Nothing worthy of note today," reads Clear's entry for Jan. 9, 1865.) This grimly real view from the trenches balances out the dry-cleaned glamour of staged battle re-creations and popular novels.

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