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Brave Enemies: A Novel of the American Revolution (Shannon Ravenel Books) Hardcover – October 25, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1565123564 ISBN-10: 1565123565 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With tremendous narrative pace, a meticulous eye for colorful detail and a tight grasp of historical setting and military action, poet and novelist Morgan (Gap Creek) delivers a rousing and affecting tale of the American Revolution. This gripping story of love and desperation is set in the brutal rebel-versus-loyalist bloodbath of 1780-1781 in North and South Carolina. Sixteen-year-old Josie Summers, a barefoot mountain girl, runs away from home after killing the stepfather who raped her. Alone, scared and hungry, having witnessed all kinds of violence, Josie disguises herself as a boy and is given shelter by an itinerant preacher, Rev. John Trethman. The preacher soon discovers her deception, but they become devoted to one another, and John marries her in a solitary ceremony. The two continue the deception to fool his congregation and the British authorities who are ruthlessly hunting for spies and seditionists. When John is taken prisoner by the British, who think he is a spy, Josie, now pregnant, believes her husband is dead. Still disguised as the boy Joseph, she joins a South Carolina militia company marching to the fateful battle at Cowpens in January 1781. Josie endures hunger, cold, grief, fear of discovery and the dangerous attentions of a cruel sergeant who guesses her secret. Meanwhile, John is forced to become a chaplain for the murderous dragoon legion commanded by sadistic Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton and his Tories are also marching to Cowpens, to a battle which will become known as the American Cannae. Morgan's portrayal of the savagery of the Southern war is graphic and shocking, making the love between Josie and John all the more tender and passionate.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Morgan has fashioned an absorbing Revolutionary War novel featuring an unusually resourceful heroine. Disguised as a man, 16-year-old Josie Summers escapes from a life of madness and exploitation after murdering her sexually and emotionally abusive stepfather. Traveling the Carolina backcountry, she crosses paths with John Trethman, an evangelical preacher who befriends the boy he knows as "Joseph." When John discovers that his new housemate is really a female, he is torn between anger and love. Hoping to absolve their sins, Josie and John privately marry, still keeping her identity a secret. Shortly thereafter, John is kidnapped by British troops and forced to serve as their minister. After Josie sets out after John, she is forced into service as a member of the North Carolina militia, where she attempts to keep both her gender and her pregnancy concealed. Sustained by love and faith, Josie and John survive their respective ordeals, eventually reuniting on the heels of a horrific battle. The homespun dialogue and understated narrative authenticate this heartrending period peace. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Shannon Ravenel Books
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: A Shannon Ravenel Book; 1 edition (October 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565123565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565123564
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,566,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The story line was intriguing as well.
P. Boardman
There's a lot to like in this book, but some to dislike too.
David K. Chivers
It will warm your heart to the very end.
christian E Eckert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By christian E Eckert on October 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just picked this book out as one of the books I was going to read on vaction. The problem is that it never made withme on my trip to the Gulf. I finished the book in two days. Because I could not put it down. I am not one who would read a love story. I got the book because of the Battle of Cowpens. I found the love story between Josie and John was my favoir part of the book. I do not what to give anything away. This book gives us many gifts. Robert Morgan gives us poetly, history, and gripping story of love. As well as a taste of the South during the Revolution. I hope Mr. Morgan will write his next book with Joise and John picking up where we last see them. A
great book that you well be glad you read. It will warm your heart to the very end.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You may disagree, but I'll say it anyway...Robert Morgan's writing reminds me of Van Gogh's paintings. From me, this is a huge compliment. Van Gogh had an almost simple way with color and form; he attacked his subjects with raw energy; a child's exaggerated grace leapt from his canvas. In much the same manner, Morgan's words are lean and raw, yet full of life and color and grace.
"Brave Enemies" follows young Josie Summers as she escapes a horrible situation at home, disguises herself as a man--in part, to avoid punishment for a crime committed--and finds herself walking through the Carolinas as the Revolutionary War takes its toll on everyone around her. She marries, becomes pregnant, and goes to war at the famed battle of Cowpens. Surprises lurk, and lessons are learned, and a vivid history lesson courses through the narrative.
With "Gap Creek," Morgan made his way into the public eye. He followed that book with "This Rock," a powerful book, but one lacking sympathetic or central female characters. For this reason, he seemed to lose some of his Oprah-generated audience. Well, "Brave Enemies" races ahead with all the elements that made "Gap Creek" a success. Strong female lead. Obstacles overcome. Tragedy endured. Be warned, some scenes are horrifying in their depictions of war and abuse of women. Yet Morgan imbues even these with his usual grace and his views that try to balance a world gone astray.
If you, like me, find Morgan's writing elementary at first, keep reading and discover the economic poetry that runs through every word he pens. Morgan, like Van Gogh, creates masterpieces.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Kennedy on June 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Comparisons to COLD MOUNTAIN are in order. BRAVE ENEMIES, too, is a love story set during the brutality and misfortune of a civil war. Here it is the American Revolutionary War with patriots and loyalists hanging each other and burning down each other's homes as well as the militia and redcoats doing battle. But while CM is burdened and slowed by literary pretensions, BRAVE ENEMIES is a fast-moving and entertaining tale, without heavy-handed symbolism or repeated flashbacks, of sixteen year old Josie Summers and John Trethman, a young itinerant Methodist minister, who fall in love and then are separated by the war. Being a history buff, I liked the realistic feel of the novel. The descriptions of the time and place, the clothes, food, weapons, homes, all seemed well-researched. And the battle of Cowpens was presented brilliantly. I feel like I was there. My only complaint is that the description of John's religious services went on too long in a couple places but that is a minor quibble. This is a gritty, realistic book, well-written, full of action and with a couple powerful sex scenes from the woman's point of view. Robert Morgan scores a double with BRAVE ENEMIES in that this is a novel I think both men and women will enjoy. Five cannonballs out of five.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Clare on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This historical novel takes place in 1780 and 1781 in the Carolina border country, where the American Revolution was a veritable civil war that raged for years. Rebels burn down the houses of Tories, lynch Tory men, and rape the women; Tories return the favor. A 16-year-old girl named Josie Summers is caught up in a nightmare of her own. A strong, stoic, and thoughtful farm girl, Josie is becoming a woman, and attracting the unwanted advances of her worthless stepfather. When their relationship finally explodes into terrible violence, Josie is forced to run away into the countryside. To survive, she disguises herself as a boy, and in that guise meets another young person, John Trethman, an itinerant Methodist preacher.

I'm not a big fan of "girl disguises herself as a man" stories, because I don't find them credible. But true to the conventions of this kind of storyline, Trethman is pretty slow on the uptake. When he finally does realize that Josie is a girl, they (not surprisingly) fall in love. Soon, however, their budding life together is destroyed when John is arrested by British troops as a rebel organizer and taken away. A pregnant Josie is on the run again, and eventually falls in with the rebel militia under Dan Morgan, the legendary "Old Waggoner." She becomes a soldier and the young couple eventually wind up on opposite sides of the epic Battle of Cowpens.

The good: The depiction of this unknown (to me, anyway) part of the war made the story of the American Revolution seem fresh and new. Josie and John are wonderful characters, thoughtful young people with much to learn. Simple rich language.

The bad: I still can't buy the idea that a guileless young pregnant woman could fool a bunch of soldiers into believing she was a man. Sometimes tiresomely literary.
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