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All his tales, both the ones about soldiers and the ones about the haunted and the haunting, are steeped in loneliness and dread, which he evokes with the precision of someone familiar with their every nuance. Bierce enlisted in the Union Army in , a week after the Civil War began. He was not quite 19 years old, and wound up serving for four years, during which he saw action at the notably bloody battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga.

Joshi, who edited this volume for the Library of America, uses here.

Ambrose Bierce

The experience of battle clearly had a profound impression on Bierce; he continued writing about it for the rest of his life. But the way he wrote about war was, characteristically, peculiar. Each of these tales is, in its first couple of pages, marvelous; Bierce is a master of apprehension, always alert to threat. Fear is indelible. Many of these tales end with an O.

Bitter Bierce or, The Friction We Call Grief

Henry-like twist, a little flourish of at best dramatic irony or at worst wild coincidence, which the writer delivers with the practiced flair of a stage illusionist finishing his trick. Those familiar with his writing will recognize the various stories and be able to distinguish fact from fiction. For those unfamiliar with the material, however, the play can be confusing. Excerpts of Bierce's Civil War stories are juxtaposed with biographical material, creating a baffling melange of realism and supernatural fantasy.

At this point, things get interesting. So timeless is this story that a French production company made a minute film of it that won top prize for short film at the Cannes Film Festival in and an Academy Award the following year.

Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories | The New York Public Library

High praise, from one master of the macabre to another. Through a quirk of fate, Searing finds himself in a terrifying position and is forced to make a horrific decision.

The Man And The Snake - by Ambrose Bierce

Another tale finds a glib Federal spy captured by the enemy and sentenced to die. Do you mean to go to your death with nothing but jokes upon your lips? Do you know that this is a serious matter?


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I have never been dead in all my life. I have heard that death is a serious matter, but never from any of those who have experienced it. All the while, Adderson has assumed that he will be hanged the next day, in a formal execution upon a properly constructed scaffold.