THE HEARTBREAK OF TAKING SIDES.

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Patriots and Rebels
Author: John C. Bush
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform (April 2014)
Genre: Novel
Paperback Edition 286 pages

Historical novels addressing complicated, divided loyalties during the Civil War in Missouri and other border states along with the accompanying violence are common in Civil War literature. Many of us are less familiar with the phenomenon of men of the Deep South fighting for the Union. And, as we might expect, families left at home had a tough time. This is the little known story of such a man and his family.

John Bush does a fine job of taking us into the daily life of a family from North Alabama during the mid-nineteenth century and telling the heart breaking tale of a man who upholds his Patriot heritage by becoming a Union soldier and the hardships that follow. Taking sides so often produces heartbreak.

One of the joys of this book is the well-written voice of the young girl who tells the story. It is a welcome viewpoint, and one that never lets the reader down in its consistency. This author is able to create a memorable character in a few sentences as he does with the old woman brandishing a gun in her doorway as she faces a traveling John Files, our soldier, trying to reach home during the waning months of the war. “She stood there in the doorway, her steel gray eyes staring a hole through me. She wasn’t being hostile exactly, but she sure wasn’t being friendly. With a nod of her head she indicated an old rocker and told me to sit.” Action scenes and dialogue are equally compelling.

This story brings together a family’s American history born during the Revolutionary War and continuing through the War Between the States. It doesn’t reach for superlatives but brings us the every day existence of one family to stand for the many. And it reminds us of the cost of taking sides in any conflict. This is a lesson that history shows we are reluctant to learn.

It is a relaxing and uplifting read, one with some surprises in store. Local history lovers, Civil War buffs, those who hunger to know what daily life was like in another time and place, and those looking for a good summer read will find this one enjoyable.

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