Review of “The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t tell: Sex in the Civil War”

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Summary- The title pretty much says it all. This book is about many of the aspects of sex during the civil war including venereal diseases, pornography, homosexuality, and prostitution.

My rating: C

In ten years when you ask me about this book the only thing I expect to remember from it is that urine was at one time used to make gun powder. A very cool fact indeed.

This book had some very fun to read chapters. I especially loved Chapter 5 “And the Flesh Was Made Word”. This chapter focused on the naughty songs that soldiers sang. Some of them are quite funny.  I also enjoyed the sections on abortion and pornography. 

This book also has some very interesting pictures. The two that most stood out to me were first a lovely nude woman posed provocatively and second a soldier stricken by end stage syphilis. I don’t think in modern times we understand the full level of horrors venereal diseases carried. These days, there are only a few venereal diseases that are incurable. And even those can be treated with medication. During the civil war there really wasn’t much that could be done if you got a VD. And some of the cures for the ailments were awful in and of themselves. The picture in this book of terminal syphilis are sickening. The guy literally looks like his leg is rotting away. I think if I lived during that era seeing a picture like that would be enough to convince me that I really didn’t ever need to lose my virginity thank you very much.

The problem with the book is that some spots were so dry I thought of skipping over them altogether. Worse still, they were during the latter half of the book. Chapters 12, 13, and 14 are mostly lists of what soldiers did what crime that got them what punishment. Some of them were funny but over all I wished the chapters could have been spaced out or gotten rid of all together. 

I don’t think I will ever read this book again but it was worth one read through. Especially the bawdy songs!

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About authorjanebnight

Hello. I am Jane B. Night. I am a writer and also one of the owners of BZ Publishing LLC.
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