Tuesday, June 16, 2015

REVIEW: Civil War Love Stories

Civil War Love Stories
by Gill Paul

Publisher: Sterling
Page Count: 192
Format: Hardcover

How got: Personal library

Why read: the personal stories from an epic historical event


From GoodReads:

In December 1860, South Carolina became the first Southern state to secede from the United States. There followed over four years of continuous fighting between the Union North and Confederate South, in what remains one of the cruelest conflicts in history.

The Civil War tore families apart, pitted friends against one another, and left an estimated 200,000 women widowed. Some three percent of the total population of America perished.

Civil War Love Stories tells the stories of 14 of the couples behind these statistics. Lovers’ heart-wrenching correspondence is recounted here, offering unforgettably poignant glimpses into the relationships that held fast despite the huge strains imposed by the war.

The love stories include: Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a brilliant military tactician, who longed to win the war so he could return home to his loving wife, Mary Anna, and their new baby daughter, Julia Laura. David Demus, who swiftly joined the Union cause after the formation of the first African American regiment, but relived the perils of fighting for their freedom in somber letters to his wife, Mary. Malinda Blalock, who couldn’t bear to be parted from her husband, Keith, and so joined the Confederate army disguised as his brother, “Sam.” Down-and-out Charles Tenney, who enlisted with the Union cause to earn the good favor of his family, but instead earned the love of his close friend’s sister, Adelaide Case.

My Thoughts

Star Rating - 4 Stars

Giving us an intimate window into the lives and relationships of the personalities that lived and fought the Civil War, I found this book engaging and very readable. I got to know these men and women on a personal level and so felt myself closer to the historical events talked about all the more. I especially liked the personal touches with the pictures of actual individuals and letter quotes in the narrative.

This is more a light historical read than any hefty tome on the subject of the Civil War. You won’t find in-depth explorations of battle strategies or memorialization of grand ideas in this book. If that’s what you’re looking for, definitely look for another volume. Yet, even though the focus is more on personal stories rather than background details of battles, I still got a real feel for the history behind the stories.

So while probably not going to be a primary source for a high school or college essay, this book still is a pleasant reading experience for those who like the personal side to history. I felt closer to the people and events involved and enjoyed every sentence.

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