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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (80 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marc Wortman Narrator: Anthony Heal Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The destruction of Atlanta is an iconic moment in American history. But this epic siege on American soil has been treated only cursorily by historians. Marc Wortman grandly remedies this situation with The Bonfire, an absorbing narrative history told through the points of view of key participants both Confederate and Union.

The Bonfire reveals an Atlanta of unexpected paradoxes: a new mercantile city dependent on the primitive institution of slavery, governed by a pro-Union mayor. When James Calhoun surrendered the city after forty-five terrible days, he was accompanied by Bob Yancey, a black slave who was likely the son of Union advocate Daniel Webster. Atlanta was both the last of the medieval city sieges and the first modern urban devastation. From its ashes, a new South would arise.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Next to Richmond, Atlanta was the most important Confederate city by 1864. Its fall in September of that year signaled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Among the many books about General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, The Bonfire stands out for its focus on the experience of Atlantans themselves. Marc Wortman’s vivid narrative proves that war is indeed hell.”

    James M. McPherson, New York Times bestselling author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

  • The Bonfire is a tour de force of American Civil War history, with everything a reader could want: Extraordinary original research, vivid prose, and old-fashioned suspense.”

    Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “[An] admirable account of the circumstances leading to the fall of the city.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Offers military annihilation as Shakespearean tragedy.”

    Washington Post

  • “Marc Wortman goes beyond the legend to reveal a history that is more complicated, but no less dramatic, than anything that came from Margaret Mitchell’s pen…His ability to create a deft, rich picture of Atlanta during this tumultuous period is what makes The Bonfire both invaluable history and a gripping read.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “The rich context Wortman provides for this singular event in America’s history does much to explain why Atlanta’s fate was critical for both sides. It’s a thoughtful work, as vivid and certainly more exact than the movies.”

    Richmond Times Dispatch

  • “A chilling narrative.”

    Washington City Paper

  • “[A] compelling history of a city in wartime.”


  • “Wortman’s very absorbing account of the Battle of Atlanta draws on the perspectives of individuals on both sides of the conflict…Fascinating.”

    Booklist (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jeff | 1/13/2014

    " Excellent book, especially if anyone is interested in the history of Atlanta prior to, during, and immediately after the Civil War. Recommend "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tom | 12/28/2013

    " better than his book on WW1 aviators. Still, there are better books on Sherman and Atlanta. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Teechbiz | 12/16/2013

    " I learned a great deal about Atlanta and the famous march. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Cissy | 9/26/2013

    " Of the 100+ Civil War books I've read, this just might be the "end all"!! If you're a lover of accurate and passionate Civil War history, this is truly a must read. "

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About the Author

Marc Wortman is the author of The Millionaires' Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power. An award-winning freelance writer, his work has appeared in numerous national magazines. He has taught literature and writing at Princeton University and was a senior editor of the Yale alumni magazine. He lives in New Haven with his wife, daughter, and son.