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In 1973, Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Killer Angels, which was made into the movie Gettysburg 20 years later. His son Jeff has written prequels and sequels to his father's famous novel. One of the main characters is Joshua Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment. James "Gus" Filigar writes about another member of that regiment, a non-commissioned officer named Nathan Clark.
Like Shaara, Filigar writes about people who really lived, so I guess we can describe it as a "non-fiction novel", a term popularized by Truman Capote. It refers to using the techniques of the novelist to tell a true story. Filigar uses Clark's diary and pension records as well as histories of the regiment and biographies of Chamberlain, who appears in the story from time to time.
Born in Ireland, Clark and his family immigrated to the United States in 1848. They eventually settled in Levant, Maine. In 1859, Clark bought his own land and became a farmer in Mesardis, Maine. Sarah Cowperthwait was already working in her uncle's general store there. They were married just before Clark joined the army in 1862. Two of his brothers, Sidney and Prentiss, had joined a cavalry regiment the previous year, and Benjamin, another brother who had been a student of Chamberlain's at Bowdoin College, joined another infantry regiment when he did. His cousin Samuel Witherspoon, whose branch of the family had immigrated to Alabama, was in the Confederate army. At one point in the book they meet up.Read more ›
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I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt of this novel during the pre-publication stage and I am delighted that I've been given the opportunity to share with you my feelings about the book. First of all, the vibrant cover of the Union Soldier in front of the Stars and Stripes made this book jump off of the shelves. To look at the cover is to be invited inside to journey back into time. Fathers, Sons and Brothers is a story told from the vantage point of Nathan S. Clark. Clark is an Irish immigrant and patriot that left home soon after his marriage to the woman that he loves to fight for the country in the Civil War. He is a member of the Twentieth Main Infantry Regiment and he is seen as a leader by his superiors from the beginning. He feels that the war is just, even though he does not savor the fact that he will be taking lives, he is determined to carry out his orders. He and his regiment battle the weather, disease and fear as they march towards their objective. His service is dotted with several skirmishes and a first hand view of the horrors of war. However, Gus Filegar will show you the human side of this struggle. With the violence that is a part of any war, he will also show you compassion and mercy for those who take up arms on opposite sides of the battlefield. The writing is extremely descriptive and the vivid details will take you as close to the battle as you would like to go. You see the men charge into battle, you see them fall on the battlefield and you see the medics struggle to piece together the mutilated parts to make the soldiers whole again. You see the sacrifice and feel the pain. You enjoy the small comforts that the men enjoy - such as hot coffee and stale bread.Read more ›
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