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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