A look at a life, a war, and poetry under fire

‘I am large, I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman wrote in the poem “Song of Myself,” describing his intimate connection to a teeming world – and intentionally warning biographers that the vastness of himself would not fit easily into any one book.

So it’s to Robert Roper’s credit that his biography, “Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War,” focuses on Whitman’s life as a poet, as the brother of a Union soldier, and as a self-appointed volunteer nursing wounded men who had left the bloody battlefields only to enter hospitals and face the amputations and other gruesome limitations of the era’s medicine.

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