Louisa on the front lines Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War

Samantha Seiple

Book - 2019

"Louisa on the Frontlines is the first narrative nonfiction book focusing on the least-known aspect of Louisa May Alcott's career - her time spent as a nurse during the Civil War. Though her service was brief, the dramatic experience was one that she considered pivotal in helping her write the beloved classic Little Women. It also deeply affected her tenuous relationship with her father, and inspired her commitment to abolitionism. Through it all, she kept a journal and wrote letters t...o her family and friends. These letters were published in the newspaper, and her subsequent book, Hospital Sketches, spotlighted the dire conditions of the military hospitals and the suffering endured by the wounded soldiers she cared for. To this day, her work is considered a pioneering account of military nursing. Alcott's time as an Army nurse in the Civil War helped her find her authentic voice--and cemented her foundational belief system. Louisa on the Frontlines reveals the emergence of this prominent feminist and abolitionist--a woman whose life and work has inspired millions and continues to do so today" --

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BIOGRAPHY/Alcott, Louisa May
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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York, NY : Seal Press, Hachette Book Group 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
v, 243 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 225-228) and index.
ISBN
9781580058049
1580058043
Main Author
Samantha Seiple (author)
  • Introduction: The heroine's journey
  • Part one: The war at home. Wayward daughter ; Stitches ; A soldier's story ; Help wanted ; Georgetown or bust ; Burnside's blunder ; The hurly-burly house ; A bitter pill ; Duty's faithful daughter ; A gift
  • Part two: Where glory waits. Unfulfilled destiny ; The chariot of glory ; Still on the front lines.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

With this work, YA nonfiction author Seiple (Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion) steps into the adult arena to craft a narrative that makes novelist Louisa May Alcott (1832–88) as accessible in all of her passions, strengths, weaknesses, and actions as the characters in her books. Select passages from Alcott's journals show her wrestling with many of the issues that beleaguer her heroine Jo March from Little Women. These cover her experiences as a nurse during the Civil War, including a train ride to the Union Hotel Hospital in Washington, DC, in which she describes walking through the patient ward hoping to appear motherly since "my thirty years made me feel old, and my suffering made me long to comfort every one." There's a beautiful humanness in Seiple's descriptions of Alcott, who bravely worked in a ward "full of amputated limbs," even as she grappled with internal battles about issues ranging from slavery to the politics of marriage. VERDICT Readers will discover in these pages an author as vibrant as her writings, and find themselves returning to her work with fresh eyes. Alcott scholars will encounter a liveliness if not substantive new information.—Emily Bowles, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Seiple (Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion) provides unique insight into Louisa May Alcott's time serving as a nurse during the Civil War, explaining how her experience at the Washington, D.C., Union Hotel Hospital essentially launched her writing career. Seiple sets the scene by chronicling Alcott's home life, both its boons (being raised in a politically and intellectually enlightened environment) and its difficulties (desperate poverty). Alcott ardently wished to be a soldier, but as women were not allowed to serve, she determined that nursing was her "destiny." She arrived at the hospital in 1862 and began work immediately, tending to the wounded and observing surgical operations. Alcott's service at Union Hotel was cut short after she contracted typhoid, and Seiple chronicles her slow and agonizing recovery in detail, along with the period of refreshment and renewal afterward in which she published "Hospital Sketches" (her correspondence from the hospital), and the novels Moods and Little Women. While other biographies may provide a more complete picture of Alcott's life, Seiple's version is laser-focused on this particular period, convincingly making the unique argument that Alcott's difficult trials forged her personality and informed virtually every facet of her work. Lovers of Alcott and fans of Civil War history will be equally pleased. (Feb.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An examination of Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's service as a Civil War nurse reveals how her experiences shaped her writing and activism, from her commitment to abolitionism to the creation of her book, Hospital Sketches. (United States history). 15,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Louisa on the Frontlines is the first narrative nonfiction book focusing on the least-known aspect of Louisa May Alcott's career - her time spent as a nurse during the Civil War. Though her service was brief, the dramatic experience was one that she considered pivotal in helping her write the beloved classic Little Women. It also deeply affected her tenuous relationship with her father, and inspired her commitment to abolitionism. Through it all, she kept a journal and wrote letters to her family and friends. These letters were published in the newspaper, and her subsequent book, Hospital Sketches, spotlighted the dire conditions of the military hospitals and the suffering endured by the wounded soldiers she cared for. To this day, her work is considered a pioneering account of military nursing. Alcott's time as an Army nurse in the Civil War helped her find her authentic voice--and cemented her foundational belief system. Louisa on the Frontlines reveals the emergence of this prominent feminist and abolitionist--a woman whose life and work has inspired millions and continues to do so today" --

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Explores Louisa May Alcott's time as a nurse during the Civil War, and how that work affected her later writing and activism.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

An eye-opening look at Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's time as a Civil War nurse, and the far-reaching implications her service had on her writing and her activism Louisa on the Frontlines is the first narrative nonfiction book focusing on the least-known aspect of Louisa May Alcott's career -- her time spent as a nurse during the Civil War. Though her service was brief, the dramatic experience was one that she considered pivotal in helping her write the beloved classic Little Women. It also deeply affected her tenuous relationship with her father, and inspired her commitment to abolitionism. Through it all, she kept a journal and wrote letters to her family and friends. These letters were published in the newspaper, and her subsequent book, Hospital Sketches spotlighted the dire conditions of the military hospitals and the suffering endured by the wounded soldiers she cared for. To this day, her work is considered a pioneering account of military nursing. Alcott's time as an Army nurse in the Civil War helped her find her authentic voice -- and cemented her foundational belief system. Louisa on the Frontlines reveals the emergence of this prominent feminist and abolitionist -- a woman whose life and work has inspired millions and continues to do so today,