Editorial review by Manybooks:
This fictionalized account of the author’s ancestors takes readers on a historical adventure through nineteenth-century America.
In Richard Greene’s Death Of Innocence, the author follows lightly fictionalized accounts of his ancestors’ lives, moving through different cities and different times. Their emotional and private lives have been embellished, of course, but their major life events are family history and the wider historical events are accurate.
Instead of a typical conflict-resolution arc, readers are led through the lives of the men and women who eventually became the author’s great-great-parents. As a young man without a lot of prospects, one great-grandfather worked on a riverboat and tried to prove his suitability for a beautiful young woman. Her brother, the author’s great-uncle, had an impressive career in the Confederate Army, seeing combat many times and distinguishing himself. The author’s great-great-grandfather also served in the southern military, surviving dangerous encounters, while the girl who will become his great-great-grandmother anxiously waited for news and hoped for his safe return. Themes of courage and determination recur again and again in the storylines, showing family traits in the military and in daily life. This makes for an interesting look at the past.
Strong historical research deepens the narrative, and the author has paid careful attention to the details of everyday life in a different era. The military sections are particularly well-researched, including historical battles, careful accounts of equipment and maneuvers, and fictionalized interpretations of how officers and enlisted men might have spoken to each other. Themes of courage and determination recur again and again in the storylines, showing family traits in the military and in daily life. Although the narrative moves between characters and between battles, there is a heavy sense of loss in most of the battles. As the story progresses, tension builds because readers can’t help rooting for the characters’ success and worrying about their safety, even though we know how the battles will turn out.
There’s also a compelling sense of fate throughout this book because these ancestors must manage to be smart or occasionally lucky enough to survive the war, in order to marry and have the children who ultimately led to the author’s birth. (One of the storylines focuses on a great-uncle, not a direct genetic ancestor, but that’s still part of the family story.) This gives a heightened sense of destiny and importance to the relationships between soldiers and the women they’ll later marry, especially in the first meetings or in seemingly minor decisions that ripple outwards.
Death of Innocence is an engaging family saga. The sense of destiny and family connection leading up the present-day gives extra intensity to everyday moments.
This mostly fictional story covering the years 1859 to 1870 is based on true events and actual people of my family that survived one of the most troubled times of our country, the Great Civil War. A war that claimed countless lives of young men that fought the battles, and the lives of many innocent non combatants as well. I am confident that as you read their stories you will create a bond with each one as I did while doing my research.
Joseph Samuel Greene, my great grandfather was a gambler at heart, and a pilot of riverboats on the Tennessee, Mississippi and Red Rivers. It was in the city of Florence, Alabama where he met Mary McAlexander, fell in love, and married as the Civil War unfolded brining uncertainty into their lives.
Andrew Patterson, my great, great grandfather was 43 years old when the southern cause beckoned. He left his children in the hands of a young woman named Rebecca Davis, the eighteen year old daughter of a neighbor. Unknown to Andrew, she was secretly in love with him, and the 23 years between them made no difference to her. Serving with Company D of Hampton's Legions of the Confederate Army, Andrew saw battles at Bull Run, Ethams Landing, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, Second Battle of Bull Run, and other places of violence.
James Chrisman, my great grandfather loved a neighbor girl by the name of Martha Herd and promised he would return to her as the train pulled out of the New Site, Alabama train depot heading for the war. James served with the 47th Alabama of the Confederate Army seeing battles at such places as The Second Bull Run, Cedar Mountain, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, and Hanover. Unknown to James, trouble was brewing for his family back home with the Home Guard.
Edward McAlexander, my great uncle, and brother to Mary McAlexander, was a well respected surgeon in Florence, Alabama, but he too found the need to serve his beloved south. Not wanting to fight the war from a field hospital , he joined the infantry, as a Major of the 27th Alabama, where he would rise to Colonel in command of the 27th Alabama surrendering his sword and his command at Appomattox. Tired and disappointed, he returned to his Florence, where his wife Sarah Koger McAlexander and daughter Mary awaited.
Editorial by Manybooks