When Stephen Crane wrote this greatest of novels of the American Civil War, he was only 21 years old. He had not yet "smelled even the powder of a sham battle." Yet he manages to convey the struggles of a raw recruit, Henry Fleming, with brutal realism. Fleming simultaneously lusts for a glorious battle, and worries endlessly about the possibility of his own cowardice. When he finally comes face to face with slaughter, his romantic notions are stripped away as he witnesses brutal deaths and senseless maneuvers. Crane vividly describes the terror of battle, and the slow-motion torrent of emotions pouring through soldiers under fire. Ernest Hemingway described The Red Badge of Courage as an American classic; the book has had such profound influence that many believe it to be the landmark work of modern American fiction.