Saturday, October 31, 2009

Novel---Seen the Glory: A Novel of The Battle of Gettysburg

Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg, John Hough Jr., Simon & Schuster, 432 pp., $25.00.

Hough manages to balance a front rank story and and a home front story. Characters such as young soldiers from Martha's Vineyard Massachusetts, runaway slaves, and freedmen in Adams County Pennsylvania are well developed but at times seem to move to the dictates of the plot and not of their own will. Blending civilian and military history, Hough writes with a novelist's drive. Luke and Thomas Chandler enlist as privates in the 20th Massachusetts Regiment and leave their father with a black female servant who is assaulted by Vineyard roughs.

Exhaustion, hunger, illness are endured by the Chambers brothers whose relationship is strained due to a secret love affair with the black servant and visits to 'soiled doves' in Virginia. Generally accurate in most military details, Hough pushes the likely limits of accuracy in race relations, black resistance, and the Army of Northern Virginia in its Pennsylvania Campaign. Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg is unlike Killer Angels. Shaara's work is more like Hemingway's (Old Man and the Sea), Foote's (Shiloh)and Crane's (Red Badge of Courage)naturalism and reticence of language. Hough's work is more effusive in descriptive language and more complex in using family and community relations.

Is Seen The Glory a novel of the Battle of Gettysburg. No. The climaxes occur at the battlefield and the battlefield park. What convinced CWL to make the purchase was not the backcover blurbs of James M. McPherson (blurb meister)or Scott Hartwig (well appreciated GNMP ranger) but Lee Smith a fine contemporary Southern author. Coming to it as a novel set in the Civil War, CWL finished Seen The Glory satisfied.

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