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Discussion in 'Reading & Writing' started by Sheldon Scott, Aug 9, 2015.
I finished BONE DRY. I'm now reading LOST ECSTACY by Mary Roberts Rinehart. This was written in1927.
Right now I'm reading the 2nd book in a 3 book series by Dale Cramer. The series is the epic story of an Amish Community in peril...and although the books are fiction, they are based a true story.
An Amish Community in Ohio had to pull up roots and move when a law was passed in Ohio making it mandatory for every child between the ages of 6 and 16 to be in public school, regardless of religious beliefs. Five of the Amish fathers were jailed for defying this and all their children of those ages were taken from their homes and put in an Orphanage. The only way the men who get out of jail and get their children back home was for them to sign a legal paper saying they would send their children to the public school.
All the fathers were upset but only one had the courage to move his family from that state so he could live his convictions. He started a Community in Paradise Valley in Mexico and this series is the story of that Community and the trials and tribulations of starting a new Amish Settlement in a land that had just ended a revolution.
Lately, I have been reading Civil War memoirs from people who fought. A surprisingly large number of people kept journals during the war, including not only officers but regular soldiers on both sides. Some were written as the war went on, while others were written during the years following the war.
For the most part, the partisanship is all too obvious. In most, there isn't a lot of reflection or consideration that there might be two sides to an issue, but that's understandable. What I find interesting in the journals written by regular soldiers is the limited perspective that they have. Not being involved in the war planning and, in most cases, not even being able to avail themselves of newspaper reports, the perspective they give is of one who is in the middle of it, yet trying to guess what it's all about. This differs greatly from traditional histories, where the author has the advantage of time and information that wasn't available to the soldiers on the field.
One of the ones that I read was written by a Confederate private, who had enlisted at the beginning of the war, at the age of seventeen. His account was mostly about himself and his friend, who had been only fifteen at the start of the war, and unable to enlist. A year later, at sixteen, his friend was able to get in and they found themselves together.
Their account was of a regular soldier who had enlisted as a boy, caught up in the excitement of the secession, but who had quickly lost that, and simply wanted to survive and to keep his friend alive. Faced with actual war, his young friend talked about going home, but of course that would be desertion and he would be shot for that.
His slightly older friend, the author of the account, didn't want to have to think of himself as a coward, but he wanted to stay alive and to keep his friend alive, so they would maneuver themselves so as not to be in the thick of the fighting. In his writing, it was clear that he was trying to find a balance somewhere between being a dead hero and a sniveling coward, and to keep his friend safe.
They would try to stay away from anyone carrying the colors because they didn't live long during a battle, and the soldier closest to them was expected to pick up the colors when they went down. They wouldn't go to the rear because that would be cowardly, and they would at times find the courage to do something brave.
The stories you've probably seen in movies are true, where soldiers from either side would trade things across a stream at night, while the battle was on hold. They would talk to each other across the stream, on friendly terms, trading coffee for tobacco, and catching up on news.
Other accounts are written by officers who were sometimes intimately familiar with the officers on the other side, in some cases having even been roommates with someone on the other side at West Point.
Several of these are available on Kindle, some free, others for a nominal charge.
I love books like that but not books about Wars so don't think I could read that. Once I read a book about pioneer women that was comprised of journals and diary entries by different women...that was really interesting and more of a woman's viewpoint about what it was like to cross the country in a covered wagon...not many survived! It took quite a few months to cross the country and you couldn't avoid the winter months, it was brutal. Packing up their wagon with just the necessities was also hard for them....they were leaving behind momentos and all the comforts they had in those days...lots of cases it was their horses that didn't make it and they'd have to hitch a ride with someone else, so probably had to get rid of even more...
Suprisingly it wasn't Indian attacks but dysentery that killed most. Wish I could remember the name of the book, it's one I would read again.
Having to discard stuff along the way would have been difficult too.
When you really stop and think about it, it's hard to even imagine what they went through. They had settled in the towns on the east coast and were by those standards "comfortable" but then those that decided to go west without even reliable maps were very brave or stupid.
We don't usually hear of that as a reason, but a lot of the settlement of the West took place during the Civil War and the years following, likely by people who found the unknown to be preferable to a known war. After the Civil War, a lot of Southerners moved West because the South was occupied and times were tough. A lot of people had lost their homes and their livelihoods during the war.
I didn't know that, or if I did I forgot. The book I read only had journals from women leaving cities like Boston.
I read this book about 35 yrs ago...wish I could remember the name of it.
Researching histories of towns all over the country, I have come across ones that were founded by Southerners escaping the post-war years in the South, or by Northerners who had moved west in the early 1860s. Rarely, does it say that they were avoiding the draft, but it's there, I think.
Interesting what you can find while searching for something else.
Anyway, life has become so easy, you forget how difficult it was not that long ago....
I finished the 3 book series based on a true story by Dale Cramer about the Amish father who moved his family to a place called Paradise Valley in Mexico because he was forced to send his children to public school in his home state of Ohio. I thoroughly enjoyed this series #1 Paradise Valley, #2 The Captive Heart, and #3 Though Mountains Fall. When the books I read can draw me in and make me feel the characters emotions, and like I'm right there living their lives right along with them, etc. that's when I consider a book a really good one. All three books in this series brought me right along to those places.
Paradise Valley was a real Amish settlement that David Luthy wrote about in his book The Amish in America: Settlements that Failed, 1840-1960. And Dale Cramer wrote his series based upon this Settlement. I'm going to check with my Library to see if they have a copy of David Luthy's book as I am hoping I can find out what happened to Paradise Valley in the end.
The Amish people and their way of life has always been of great interest to me as I have often wondered how these people could stick to their convictions and live in the world while not becoming a part of it. In Dale Cramer's books I found some answers to this.
I have been reading the Great Expectations but I have to say that it is a quirk of mine. Despite my age, I still love to reread the classic stories I used to read when I was a child.
William Tecumseh Sherman by James Lee McDonough is my current volume. I had already read The Memoirs of W T Sherman some years ago so a lot of this book is already familiar, but is still very interesting and worthwhile. Over the years I have read a lot about the American Civil War and find that it never grows boring, whether about the Generals or the ordinary soldiers, northern or southern, Irish, German, Anglo, whatever, it is endlessly fascinating to me. I had ancestors on both sides in the battle of Shiloh, so it has been of the most interest to me.
I'm still reading a lot of Civil War memoirs.
I just finished reading "Dear Senator," by Strom Thurmond's daughter.
Right now I'm reading the second Novel in the St. Simons Trilogy by Eugenia Price titled New Moon Rising. Although Eugenia Price died in 1996 she wrote many historical fiction books and this Trilogy is just one set of them. This Trilogy is about Georgia history, and the settlement of St. Simons Island. The people in this Trilogy were real residents of the Island from the beginning of its settlement.
Eugenia Price loved St. Simons Island so much that she moved there from Chicago and lived out the rest of her life on the Island.
This past week I've been reading another Triology of books that are Historically accurate. These were authored by Lisa T. Bergren and this time the historic accurancy takes place in Europe. The books follow the life of a young woman who finds out her real father is a wealthy businessman who decides to claim her as his daughter and send her along with his other children on a Grand Tour of places in Europe. It is a passage of rite allowing the children of wealthy parents to grow to young adulthood while obtaining knowledge of the History of the World they live in while mingling with others of their Class in the European Countries.
The author made me feel like I was right there experiencing everything with the characters and learning what each of them was learning while also feeling all their emotions. This to me is always the sign of a good writer.
I just finished Crucifixion Creek by Barry Maitland, for my Crime & Mystery Book Club. It is the first of the Harry Belltree trilogy and I will not read the others, as the detective operates outside the law too much for my taste. It is set in Sydney, which I enjoyed, but otherwise not enjoyable. His other series is very good, however, the Brock & Kolla series, set in England.
I just finished The Last Star by Richard Yancey. It is the last in a sci-fi trilogy in which aliens took over humans by planting an egg which would "hatch" at puberty but still the human body would remain as is. So people did not know which was human or alien.
The first two books in the series were excellent, the third kept you going till the end....unfortunately I did not like the ending and if the author had been in the room I would have thrown the book at him.
I'm reading The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan. It's a well-written book about a fascinating man who lived in exceptionally interesting times on several continents.
Welcome to the forum, @John McIntosh. I have not heard of Timothy Egan though, so I can't speak to the book. If he's younger than sixty, the chances are good that I've never heard of him.
Timothy Egan is 62, so he qualifies. Here is a link to his NY Times opinion page, https://www.nytimes.com/column/timothy-egan.
Another good book he's written is The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Highly recommended.
I'm fascinated by Ireland after The Immortal Irishman and am moving on to Edward Rutherfurd's The Princes of Ireland.
I don't think I've ever read a Zane Grey book. I'm not sure why, as I like the Western genre, and I like books written during that time period.
I've been reading several of the Alex Cooper series by Linda Fairstein.