cover image Nashville 1864

Nashville 1864

Madison Jones, Porter Manuals. J. S. Sanders and Company, $17.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-879941-35-9

This slim historical novel reflects the horrors and the excitement of the Civil War through the eyes of its 12-year-old hero, Steven Moore; and the book's ultimate success depends on how believable we find the child's voice. Jones (To the Winds, 1996) attempts to put a redeeming spin on the ignominious end of the slave-holding agrarian South, advancing the romantic image of a benign, paternalistic Confederacy where slaves are treated as family. Accompanied by a male slave his own age, Moore leaves his distraught mother in order to penetrate enemy lines and beg his father, an heroic Confederate captain, to desert his desperately beleaguered troops because his wife and babies are ill. Credibility suffers when the starving, half-frozen soldiers eagerly donate food and articles of comfort to ensure the two intrepid lads' well-being. Jones assumes too much of the reader's knowledge of local geography and history, and the chronicle sometimes blurs into a meaningless litany of the futile, last-ditch efforts of proud but decimated Confederate forces to regain dominion over their homeland in middle Tennessee. In the end, we get a boy's-eye view of an old man's sanitized image of the gentility of the old South. (May)