Red Badge of Courage
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First published in 1895, it is a powerful tale of the battle that rages inside the hero, Henry Fleming, rather than of that between Confederate and Union soldiers. It is a story of fear and helplessness, perhaps the first novel about war to focus on the destruction of romantic illusions of bravery and courage. Fleming has every confidence that he will be a hero when he sees action, but in fact turns and flees in fear amidst the chaos of battle. After a futile try to prevent the troops from advancing because he believes they are doomed, he returns to his fellow soldiers and finds himself inevitably drawn into the next day's battle. In victory, he finds himself perceived to be a hero at last, however unintentional his "heroics" proved to be.</p>