Hillcountry Warriors

Johnny Neil Smith, Author, James C. Smith, Editor Sunstone Press $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-86534-247-7
Drawing heavily from his own family history, first-time author Smith portrays the Old South in transition during the mid-19th century, examining social changes through the lens of two feuding white families. After the two Wilson brothers, Lott and Jake, journey from Georgia to Mississippi, they establish an unusually warm relationship with the native Choctaw Indians. The Wilsons have no such friendship with the Ollivers, however, thanks to a serious conflict between Frank Olliver and Lott Wilson's son John. Frank and John are best friends until they both fall in love with a comely neighbor, Rebecca, who returns John's ardor. Frank persuades John to leave Mississippi and join him in fighting for the Confederacy. After his father pays a substitute to take his son's place in the army, however, Frank quickly courts and marries Rebecca, who mistakenly believes that John has been killed at Gettysburg. When John returns, the story leads inexorably to a predictably heartrending romantic resolution. Smith, a longtime teacher of American history, creates some stirring Civil War scenes and details the conflicts between former masters and slaves. Incidents involving the Choctaw are equally compelling, especially when the tribe is forced to flee to the Oklahoma Territory. While the writing is excessively earnest, Smith's command of the era's politics and history and his feel for Southern family relationships make this tale an above-par work of period fiction. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Open Ebook - 372 pages - 978-1-61139-060-5
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-86534-546-1
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