25 July 2010

Knoxville 1863

It is with some trepidation that I've opened Knoxville 1863 - the new book by my friend Dick Stanley aka Texas Scribbler. While his previous book, Leaving the Alamo, found a place in my library and my heart, being a collection of candid and true glimpses into lives of veterans of Vietnam war, this time I was facing a completely different challenge. My most hated subject in school and afterward was history, especially the part dealing with specifics of various wars, their battle maps, their homicidal commanders and their no less homicidal leaders. The sentiment spread forth and, as a result, I rarely if at all read any books dealing with military history.

Anyhow, my trepidation had mostly to do with my fear of being obliged to go through another boring military history book and then feeling obliged to make appropriate noises in order to satisfy Dick's author's ego and sensitivities. Boy, was I mistaken...

The book starts, surprisingly enough, with Leila Ellis (or Mrs. Clayton Ellis as was acceptable at the time), widow of a Confederate officer Clayton Ellis, visiting a First Lieutenant Samuel Nicoll Benjamin of the Union (!) army with an offering of a dinner. The plot thickens from the first page, I warn you.

And then the book, after a rather unhurried start, grips the reader. I know almost nothing about this specific war and I am not certain that I shall ever invest more time in its study. But there is no doubt that learning about the unimaginable level of deprivation and suffering and, at the same time, the valor and the sacrifice of the soldiers on both sides cannot be forgotten soon, if ever. And learning about a brilliant military mind opposed to amazing lack of military intelligence is a revelation to a layman.

Well, I wouldn't be the spoiler and, aside of saying that I enjoyed the book very much and learned from it a lot, I can offer a priceless bit of advice: click here and buy it!

And, after reading the book, visit the brand new and shiny site KNOXVILLE 1863, the novel, to learn more about the battle, the place, the time and the people.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fancy may kill or cure...................................................

Dick Stanley said...

Thank you for the plug, Snoop. I'm glad you enjoyed the tale. And as I told you privately I'm quite convinced that one of the major historical figures of the story, Lt. Benjamin, was a Jew, though I could find no proof of it. Not so unusual, really, as Jews participated on both sides. The Confederate secretary of state, after all, was Judah Benjamin, a Louisiana lawyer and planter.