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Golden Chains Paperback – June 4, 2014
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
About the Author
David I. McCaskey is a beekeeper, country lawyer, and former Field Artillery officer who lives in Augusta County, Virginia. A substantial portion of his law practice during the last twenty-nine years has involved mental health issues and he is a lifelong student of local history and observer of people's behavior -- like the old man said, "boy, you got two ears and one mouth for a reason."
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Raymond's war as a soldier was very short. He incurred a bloody and life threatening injury to his leg and had to be saved, transported and treated in a hospital in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The rehabilitation was long, painful, vigorous and demanding. Once he had healed as much as possible, he was discharged. he recognized that he had to devise a plan to support himself and make a contribution to his family and community.
He returned to his family farm, where his family was grateful that he was alive and "healing." They did not, however, understand that he would never be the same person he had been prior to the war. The demands of farming were physically too demanding. Being a realist, he knew that he would need to find another profession to become a contributor to his family. He also had to find something that would give him a sense of purpose and contribution to the people and country he loved.
He researched his personal history, looking for a direction to pursue as he looked forward to his future. As he examined his options, he found the direction of his future, by examining his past. What came out of the crucible of his deliberation was that he would return to his roots and raise honey bees as his grandfather had taught him in his youth.
One might question the importance of bee keeping, but in so doing, he learned invaluable lessons for life. Bee keeping is not an easy vocation and one that held potential danger. If one disturbed the hive, their were untold numbers of aggressive bees to drive off all intruders to protect their home. To be successful, one needed to careful, calm and deliberate. These lessons offered strategies and skills to regain his identity, as well as his ability to be a contributor to his family and his community.
It would be unwise to look at this book as a story about bee keeping. Ultimately, it is a story about courage, commitment and transcending anything and everything that confront each person in their lives.
Mr. McCaskey is a skilled lawyer committed to seek fairness and justice for the clients he serves. In addition to his law practice, he is a talented painter, creative mechanic as well as bee keeper. He is a man that can teach all of us lessons to embrace life in it's fullest.
The book is filled with a deep knowledge of geographical images from the Shenandoah Valley, many ways to accomplish tasks (in the finest detail) while being "gimped", and the unfolding of a life so traumatized. Mr. McCaskey's ability to portray "Raymond" comes from his comprehensive understanding of the mentally ill, with whom he has worked in his law practice. This book is for anyone who knows the horrors of war, the guilt of survival and the anger of having your life but not your breath stolen at such a young age.
Also impressive is Mr. McCaskey's ability to take a naive reader and place them into a situation where the options for living become extremely limited. My emotions were raw at times throughout the reading, often sad, yet excepting of a reality so plainly spoken by a compassionate author. There may be a little Raymond in us all...
McCaskey's lush and detailed story reminds us that war affects not only those who fight its battles, but also families and communities in deep and profound ways. Anyone interested in war literature, southern history and culture, and the effects of PTSD will find this novel a welcome addition to their reading list.