Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Pittsburg Landing by Robert Burns Clark

Some readers may despair at the thought of yet one more book about the Civil War because it seems as if that period in US history has already been abundantly covered in fiction and nonfiction books. But Pittsburg Landing, even to my surprise, is a novel take on the period. In addition, it is written by an author that I would describe as a traditional storyteller as I know them from rural Western North Carolina. Robert Burns Clark, of Dukes of Hazzard fame, did indeed grow up in the hills of North Carolina and the book and its writing style make no attempt to hide that origin. The sentences flow beautifully and no matter how gory or sad of an episode is being described the language makes the whole experience enjoyable to the reader.

I started this book expecting a description of how various characters experienced a Civil War battle that took place at Pittsburg Landing in 1862. But after reading the first couple of pages, I sensed that this book was indeed different. It was a pleasure to savor the words as the came off the page and formed a storyline that describes characters on both sides of the conflict. The author does not take sides, but allows each main character to tell his story. Will Moore and Amos Bingham participate in the war for different reasons, but each protagonist is sufficiently experienced in fighting and warfare to know that no battle can be won without losses. Will, a West Point graduate and career soldier, volunteers for duty despite his opposition to a war between the states. Amos never wanted to fight again and would rather be called a coward by his Alabama neighbors than sign up. But when the insults become too much that even his son is ashamed of him and secretly runs away to join the Confederacy, Amos gets drawn into the conflict as well. 

Available on here

Overall, this is nice book with a focus on historical fiction and romance. If you are looking for a gripping tale of battle history, the book fails. But if you are looking for reading material for a lazy summer afternoon at the beach, Pittsburg Landing may be a somewhat unusual choice because of the Civil War relevance, but it will keep you perfectly entertained. I really appreciate the way that Robert Clark brings his characters to life; they are well developed and despite the strong feelings that the generals may have about why either side should win the war, the characters show the human side to the war. They exemplify an important lesson in my opinion, name that every war has victims, not just winners and no matter who wins a battle, there are always victims on both sides.

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