J W M Thompson

He Took a Prostitute to Meet Queen Victoria

American Scoundrel: Love, War And Politics In Civil War America


Chatto & Windus 320pp £20 order from our bookshop

Thomas Keneally introduces the subject of his latest book as ‘the notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles’. He was notorious in his own time, no doubt, but is certainly no household name today. When I asked a couple of American academics about this infamous figure in their nation’s past, they said they had never heard of him. After I had also glanced at several American histories without finding any reference to the man, I assumed that Thomas Keneally, well known as the author of Schindler’s Ark and The Playmaker, had once again exercised his talent for discovering a striking story in relatively unexplored territory. So it proved. This time he has hit upon a ripe character from that rough and often disreputable period when the modern USA was struggling to be born. A promising subject, then.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,