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The author of Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation and the author of A Rumor of War have very contrasting styles due to the different purposes of their books. John Ehle, the author of Trail of Tears, mainly writes to inform the general audience about the Cherokee nation giving a less entertaining “dry” book. Philip Caputo, the author of A Rumor of War, describes the experiences he went through during the Vietnam War. Due to the different purposes, the writing styles of the two authors vary heavily.
Ehle, writing about the Cherokee’s movement west, speaks in a third-person manner to give off a more professional view of the movement. The style generally used was giving the information and statistics that any history textbook would give, along with the essential element of a protagonist to follow through this movement. The protagonist was a key character that lived throughout the whole movement, Major Ridge. The difference between the protagonist of Ehle and Caputo is that Caputo focuses on himself, a single component of the whole war while Ehle uses a profound protagonist that drives the situation forward, while Caputo is the one that is affected by the constantly changing situation. Caputo faces contradicting orders, adding to his confusion and dropping motivation throughout the war. Even during his days of rest, two men are killed through battle, making the changing situation further catalyzing the decay of his soul and mind. What Caputo is able to accomplish, due to the more narrow scope covered in the novel and due to the first-person accounting of an event, is a good control of the sense of time. The long dreary weeks of waiting are also very long for the readers. The adrenaline-pumping moments also pass by in what seems a very graphic moment. The painful moments giving a sense of a stop in time is also felt by the reader. Ehle on the other hand must give large jumps in time, only able to go briefly over the events themselves and not the effects on the individual. What makes Trail of Tears not fall short of the glory of A Rumor of War is not due to its emotional emphasis, but its use of statistics and being able to incorporate the first-person moments of Ridge to smoothly depict the variety of situations among the many decades that follow through the movement. Along with all the differences among the writer’s styles, the trait that still gives a similar element of style due to the general theme of important moments in history.
Although A Rumor of War does have a general theme that war does not change, one can still say that throughout the book the situations of the war have developed throughout the book, in both intensity and situation. Both books develop the idea of change through time. Caputo at the end faces the full effects of the war, where he is charged with the death of two Vietnamese civilians, while Ehle describes the end of the migration west and Ridge’s death. Yet, in both books, the ends are still open to question of the future afterwards because both are just one piece of history. Whatever takes place after those events because of those events are left to be further studied, since history is always continuing to develop. Even today, one can find the effects of the Vietnam War and the movement of the Cherokees, which allowed much of the land of our country today, but also the fall of a great nation that had a very promising future among American society.
The two books that are written based on two major events that affected American society have different elements that appeal to different readers. Whether one prefers a more informational book or a more action-filled dramatic book, many books of different events of history are available for all types of people to enjoy. Even along with these differences, there are always the basic elements of a protagonist and a general storyline that helps drive the story forward. Caputo and Ehle’s different writing styles and different genre can be clearly told apart as well as contain the similar interests that appeal to all readers.
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