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Hard Tack and Coffee cover art

Hard Tack and Coffee

Written by: John D. Billings
Narrated by: Jim Roberts
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Publisher's Summary

First published more than 100 years ago, Hard Tack and Coffee is John Billings' absorbing account of the everyday life of a US Army soldier during the Civil War. It is written by a person who would know the material best, a genuine Civil War soldier.

Public Domain (P)1992 Jimcin Recordings

United States Civil War veteran John D. Billings' Hard Tack and Coffee first hit the best-seller list way back in 1888, and has ever since been considered by historians to be a peerless source of information about the humdrum lives of soldiers fighting in one of the most brutal periods of conflict in US history.

Jim Roberts takes care to draw out Billings' characteristic humor in his performance of this work, clearly articulating Billings' tales of his day-to-day life and activities as a Union soldier. This work may be of special interest to Civil War reenactors, who will find it full of vivid details about the mundaneness of a soldier's life beyond the battlefield.

  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"His account is often full of humor as he describes soldiers' rations, fights with lice, and camp songs. Narrator Roberts does a good job overall." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Hard Tack and Coffee

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Rob
  • 26-11-07

Good, dry information

I purchased this title expecting to get a plain, matter-of-fact account of the day-to-day life of a civil war soldier. I was not disappointed.

If you are at all intrigued with the civil war and would like to hear a good first person account, you can probably "soldier" through this, but keep in mind there was no attempt made to make this material interesting to the average person.

The reader was as dry as the content.

The information was very complete, which is why I give it a high rating.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Scherrie
  • 13-03-09

Hard Tack & Coffee

I enjoy history so this was very enlightening regarding the lives and trevails that our soldiers on both sides had to endure. There were many hardships that I don't think people understand in modern times. Gives lots of insite on how we lived and defended our nation during the Civil War.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shawn Bell
  • 28-03-16

Great insight!

This book offers great insight into the civil war soldiers experience. It's a great book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael J. Boyle
  • 04-04-15

great information For historian and reenactor.

this book is an essential book for anyone who is interested in life of the Union civil war soldier. I am a reenactor and have re read this book several times in hopes to understand every little aspect of army life between 1861 and 1865.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 30-07-13

Better than I thought!

If you could sum up Hard Tack and Coffee in three words, what would they be?

Really damn interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

The story told of many details about day to day life in the Union Army that I didn't know. Interesting stuff.

What does Jim Roberts bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A decent tone of voice.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

It's not really a good book for a film, unless it was a documentary.

Any additional comments?

Super interesting.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Abdul
  • 26-06-16

Appreciation for Everyday Life for Civil War Soldiers

I most liked the detail told largely through anecdotes of such a vast array of aspects of soldiering. Anyone wanting to know what army life was like, from the plight of horses, mules, pigs and cattle to the burying of the dead would like this account. The depth would no doubt be too much regarding some topics for some; however, others with a broad interest would seldom if ever abandon a chapter before its completion.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 24-01-13

Interesting information

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes. There was alot of intersting information and quite a different prospective than most history books

Who was your favorite character and why?

n/a

How could the performance have been better?

The reader could have made the listen more intertaining if he had sounded like he was interested in the material his self.

Did Hard Tack and Coffee inspire you to do anything?

no

Any additional comments?

The editing could have been much better. At the end of every chapter the last word was cut short and spliced into the first word of the next chapter.