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Life During (and After) the Civil War

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Life During (and After) the Civil War

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

Mary Sutter is a woman with a strong desire for knowledge. Already the most renown midwife in Albany, New York, she wants more. She wants to be a surgeon. Every avenue she tries is blocked to her, so she takes a bold step and heads to the capital at the start of the Civil War to become a nurse and learn all she can. She learns more than she bargained for as she is pressed into service as a surgeon performing as many as 35 amputations in a day.

This book is not for the squeamish. There are detailed descriptions of the suffering of wounded soldiers and their surroundings. The reader will be confronted with smells, sights and sounds that some may never wish to experience, even vicariously. This book will be of particular interest to those readers who want to learn more about the history of medicine and how much the profession of doctors, surgeons and nurses in wartime and peace have changed over time. History fans will also enjoy reading about the strategy behind some Civil War battles and the ineptness of the soldiers and generals of the Union in the early times of the war.

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks

This novel begins with the death of one of the main characters, former Confederate General John Bell Hood. Another main character, his wife Anna Marie Hood, already passed away weeks before. The third, ice maker Eli Griffin, is charged with publishing the “true” memoirs of the deceased General and destroying the war memoir (Advance and Retreat) his former colleagues in arms wish to publish to glorify his memory. The story is told through the journals of the deceased couple and the man with a deathbed mission trying to puzzle out the inconsistencies and holes in the stories of these two lives.

General John Bell Hood was a real person who really did publish a war memoir entitled Advance and Retreat. While much is not known of his life after the war he did marry Anna Marie and had eleven children. This is the story of what his life may have been like after the war.

This is a well constructed story which realistically portrays how two people, even close, married ones, can have different perspectives and insights into a situation, and how withholding information can be both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation. This is an engrossing story of life in the south after the war where racism ran rampant and the defeat was still strong on everyone’s mind. An excellent choice on audio since each of the three characters narrate different chapters and a different voice actor is used to portray each one.

By | 2017-05-08T20:10:33+00:00 August 13th, 2010|SCLSNJ Recommended Reads|
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