This Scorched Earth: A Novel of the Civil War
This is the story of the Civil War and the effects after it told through the eyes of the Hancock family. With the war starting, the author tells the stories of each of the children and the effects of the war has on them and how they try to find some peace and “normalcy” in their lives after it is all
The story is given in almost a journal form, which I found interesting. Ma Hancock is left with her children, and once again her husband has gone off. Though she’s not surprised (he’s done this before), this time the war was his excuse. She watched as her two sons, Philip and Butler, also joined the war, thus leaving young Billy and Sarah home to face the armies of the North and South who came and took whatever they could carry, leaving them practically nothing. The only thing saving their small farm is that her menfolk were on the southern side. The sounds of fighting are heard all around them, not to mention soldiers retreating past their home, and soon the home and front yard are turned into a makeshift hospital where Ma Hancock and Sarah hear the sounds of young men in agony. To them, the war was in front of them since the casualties of it were. These are the same sounds Philip faces in the hospitals, where he has limited surgical supplies and a constant flow of wounded that never ceases. Sarah, the young and lovely daughter who wanted to go to Little Rock because her pa had promised he’d take her, had dreams of meeting a handsome wealthy gentleman until the war changed all that and turned Sarah’s life toward another path. All she faces each day are death and young men suffering–a path not even her pa would approve of.
The book shows the Hancock family’s day-to-day trials and tribulations as they are placed in the path, like many others, of this dark part of our history. The strength of Ma Hancock is something I found to be the heart of the story. When all around her life was falling apart, she had the presence of mind to keep her family intact. It gives the reader a look at the war and how families had to deal with their world collapsing around them–not all were living on plantations. This book should be up there with Gone With The Wind–no, actually I feel it has done more for telling the Civil War than Gone With the Wind. Don’t get me wrong, GWTW is my favorite book of the Civil War, but I’d like to point out it was written in 1939. This is looking at the war with new eyes and a new audience eager to experience the same magic that Margaret Mitchell’s book captured. After reading the first chapter, I was engrossed and completely captured by the story. This piece has all the ingredients that make a book great, and I hope it captures the attention of someone in Hollywood so we might see these characters come to life in the future.
This is a must for anyone who enjoys a book that is not only entertaining but takes the reader back to that time. I think Mr Gear has done a wonderful job with this piece, and I recommend it.
|Page Count||704 pages|
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Katy Cook –
This is a 5-star rated book. I understand it has been nominated for a Pulitzer prize. Author William Gear is noted for his expertise in pre-historic fiction. He has been praised for his excellent research for all of the 60+ fictional books written about early America.