John Ransom's Andersonville Diary

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: John Ransom

Narrated By: David Thorn

Publisher: Alcazar AudioWorks

Date: January 2004

Duration: 8 hours 50 minutes


An extraordinary day-to-day documentary of the Civil War's most infamous Confederate prison, Camp Sumter, better known as Andersonville. Where 13,000 wretched Union prisoners died within barely 14 months, under conditions which bear witness to man's inhumanity to man. And, one man's undaunted spirit to survive, to tell the dreadful tale! The diary mirrors Ransom's changing attitudes from the moody early staccato sentences when he is first captured to the resigned and eventually cheerful prose when the war draws to a close.

This book is an extraordinary day-to-day documentary of the Civil War's most infamous Confederate prison, Camp Sumter, better known as Andersonville. Here 13,000 wretched Union prisoners died within barely fourteen months, from starvation, scurvy, and other diseases that spread through the camp. There was little shelter but makeshift tents; little in the way of blankets, warm clothing, or even shoes; and a scarcity of food and fresh water. Often they were forced to sleep on the muddy ground in very crowded conditions.

While the deplorable conditions bear witness to man's inhumanity to man, they also are witness to one man's undaunted spirit to survive to tell the dreadful tale.

John Ransom, a Union soldier captured by the Confederate Army, ended up in the Andersonville prison. He had been a printer from Michigan, and he returned there after the war. Little else is known about his life except through his diary of his prison experience.

Reviews for Alcazar AudioWorks' production of John Ransom's Andersonville Diary
"David Thorn reads with a genteel calmness, even when recounting the most horrible experiences...Thorn's consistency helps tie together an account that...amply preserves a record of war's inhumanity."-AudioFile Online

I first became interested in the Civil War, and in history itself, watching the movie Gettysburg. I went on to read Killer Angels, the book on which the movie was based, and I was so taken with the historical figures depicted there that I sought out their biographies. From their biographies, I was drawn to investigate original sources: the writings of those people, themselves in letters and journals.

John Ransom's Diary is an original source that is fascinating, uplifting, horrifying, and shattering by turns. John Ransom, serving in the Union army, was twenty years old when he was captured by Confederates. Part of his incarceration was spent in the infamous Andersonville prison camp.

Here is a day-to-day record, sparse but gripping, of a man's imprisonment. There are villains as well as heroes among the prisoners. We hear not only of cooperation, of men banding together to keep each other going, but of cowards and thieves. There are accounts of cruelty, as you might expect, and ill-treatment, and unfairness, yet through it all John Ransom maintains a balance and grace, even exhibiting a dry wit and fine sense of irony.

David Thorn does an exceptional job of reading this account, never over-dramatizing, but making you think you're listening to a stream of consciousness, matter-of-fact recording of happenings as they're set down on the page.
I'd suggest restricting the listening to your older students, middle school and above, while recommending this resource as an important addition to a study of the American Civil War.
Reviewed By: Jean Hall - EHO Eclectic Homeschool Online

Quotes about John Ransom's Andersonville Diary
"A great adventure...observant, eloquent, and moving."-Publishers Weekly


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