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Archive for November, 2008

Title: “Two Brothers: One North, One South”
Author: David H. Jones
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0979689857
Publisher: Staghorn Press
Date of Publication: September 1, 2008— Available now!

Two Brothers - One North, One South
 

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“Moonlight glimmered on the distant capitol dome and cast long shadows from the gothic towers and battlements of the Smithsonian Institute. To the west, the partially completed shaft of the Washington Monument appeared like a giant white chimney protruding from the dark landscape. Between these edificeswere fields filled with temporary streets and wooden buildings. Bathed in the dim light was a city transforming itself from a military bastion consumed by the business of war to a city intent on governing the once-again United States.”

(“Two Brothers: One North, One South” pg 7)

 

I have to say that I love the opening paragraph above.  Sometimes when I go back to reread a book and I’m looking for a few good lines to use in my review, I have to look for quite awhile.  In this case, it’s the first thing you read- and they’re perfect.  As I mentioned in one of my recent reviews about another author, this is what Creative Writing teachers strive to pull from you.  The imagery is fantastic.  You can picture the capitol!  Or perhaps it’s even those first two words- “Moonlight glimmered“– a perfect descriptive hook.

The story itself is pretty good.  The title is pretty self explanatory, it’s the story of two brothers during the American Civil War.  I’ve not read much historical fiction set during this time.  The only thing that comes to mind is Ann Rinaldi’s “The Last Silk Dress“, but that is a completely different type of book (still good though!).  “Two Brothers….” is based upon acutal historical events which is what I think really makes it work.  As you can see from my interview below with the author, he did a tremendous amount of research- and I think it really shows in the story.  (Not that I would know differently, as my knowledge in this area is lacking… but I’ll take his word for it that most of the details and dates and such are historically accurate!)

What I liked most about this book is that it didn’t read like a boring history book.  I’ve come across so many historical fiction novels that put too much emphasis on history and not enough on fiction.  They attempt to write nonfiction disguised as fiction.  In this case, “Two Brothers…” is the perfect balance.  There’s action and dialogue.  The history is there, but you can tell that you’re reading fiction.  Hopefully you understand what I mean!

I would indeed recommend this to anyone looking for historical fiction set during or around the American Civil War.  For that matter, I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good story!  Thanks to David H. Jones and Trish from TLC tours.  See below for my interview with David, and for details on how to win your own copy of this book.

 

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David H. Jones has graciously agreed to allow me to interview him! Welcome David, and thank you for joining us today.

Q. I love the cover art, the split uniform showing the uniforms for both the North and the South. It works extremely well with the story. I’m always interested in how much influence an author has over the cover art. So my question is are you pleased with the cover, and were you directly involved in the process of choosing an image?

A. I share your delight with the “Two Brothers” cover art for its great appearance and the fact that it clearly depicts the story within. The amount of influence an author has on cover art and interior layout depends on the publisher. I was directly involved with developing the concept and working with the designer, The DesignWorksGroup, but I’m aware of other circumstances where the publisher has total control over the decision making process and the author is not consulted. After several discussions with Charles Brock, a principal of The DesignWorks Group, I received three presentations and chose the one that evolved into the final design approved by all parties. As it was important that the uniforms be absolutely correct, exact reproductions were purchased and used in the photography, then donated to Pamplin Historical Park for its interpretative program.

Q. From the jacket I can see that you’re a “lifelong student of the Civil War”. What first interested you about the civil war? What’s kept you so focused and interested on it, as opposed to say, the American Revolutionary War?

A. American history is my passion, all phases of it, from the first colonization to more recent times. However, the Civil War has special meaning to me as my father told stories during my childhood that he heard from his grandfather, personally linking me to the horrendous event that wrought our nation from a loose collection of states. My dad lived a long and good life, and I knew him well. He knew his maternal grandfather, Jacob Eckes, who served as a private in the 10th West Virginia Infantry. Thus, as a 68-year old man, I knew people, who knew people, who fought in the American Civil War, proving that it happened not so very long ago.

Q. What did you hope to accomplish by sharing “Two Brothers…” with the world?


A. Great question! I found the Prentiss brothers story while researching my ancestor’s regiments in past wars. My great great grandfather James Touchstone served in the 6th Maryland Infantry with Clifton Prentiss. Fascinated by the story, I compiled voluminous notes over three years of research and determined that it was the quintessential story of the Civil War. It was clearly a story that needed to be told! What I hope to accomplish is recognition by readers of Walt Whitman’s conclusion–that the soldiers of both sides were American patriots and that their stories must not be forgotten.

Q. How has your life changed since you wrote “Two Brothers…”, and do you have any plans for writing another novel sometime in the future?
A. The research phase and subsequent book tours have included a number of trips back East (we live in California) to Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Petersburg–all places that are among our favorites to visit. Next week we are doing a book signing at the Museum and Visitor Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park. We have visited the graves of all of the main characters and many sites where important events in the book took place. Dian and I were honored to unveil the new Veterans Administration gravestones for the Prentiss brothers at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where they’re buried side by side. These have all been great departures from our typical routine and things that we have thoroughly enjoyed.
The next writing project–that’s another great question. A memoir of a 6th Maryland officer which describes in great detail his experiences throughout the war has recently come to light. If permission to publish can be achieved, I may write a history of the 6th Regiment of Maryland Infantry, or a new novel, based on this journal. Time will tell.

Q. This kind of goes along with the previous question, but what do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A. Dian and I enjoy travel and spending time with family and friends. I’m also still actively involved in business.

Q. Let’s finish with my usual bookish questions! What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Finally, what are you reading right now and why?

A. I like both fiction and non-fiction. On a recent trip to Florida I read the novel “Down River” by John Hart and enjoyed it very much. My favorite book of all time is “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry. Presently, I’m about one-third into the just released “Now The Drum of War: Walt Whitman and his Brothers in the Civil War” by Robert Roper. It’s excellent and provides great insight into Whitman’s Civil War experiences.

 

A big thank you to David for joining us. I’m sure my readers enjoyed our interview as much as I did. Don’t forget to check out David’s Blog here!

Giveaway details: David as well as Trish from TLC tours have sent me an extra copy of “Two Brothers: One North, One South” for me to giveaway to one lucky commenter. The book is even autographed! If you’d like to win it, comment on this post telling me about your favorite Civil War book. If you don’t have one, tell me why you want to read this one. You have until the end of the month, November 31rst, and like my other contests, this is open to anyone- not just the US and Canada. For an extra entry, you can blog about this contest, but make sure to tell me about it!

 

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