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Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General Paperback – September 30, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a family history ...and an interesting look at Reconstruction through the eyes of some prominent North Carolinians. The author, Suzy Barile, is a decendent of the couple... and that gives the book a personal touch. But the book is not sentimental; it is well-researched and draws its material from the letters, diaries and documents of its central characters. Undaunted Heart is for your Civil War buff or for anyone interested in local history. --News & Record, Greensboro, NC

About the Author

After a 25-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor, Suzy Barile now teaches English and journalism at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned a master's degree from North Carolina State University. She lives in Cary, North Carolina.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Eno Publishers; 1st edition (September 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982077114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982077115
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,316,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Being Eleanor Hope ("Ellie") the VI (my daughter is Hope VII), I heard stories Of Ella everytime we visited my grandmother (Hope iv) and have seen the feistiness of Ella straight down through the generations! My sister Suzy gives a fascinating presentation of this story quite often. She incorporates items of interest, one being Ella's diamond ring (on loan, sis, since I got the Eleanor name!!) We also have a delicate gold bracelet given to Ella by the General with her name engraved inside. Over the years, as each Eleanor married, her new last name was added. All my life I have heard the story of Ella and now to actually read it and to see so many pieces of information is quite exciting. One tidbit I learnd was how Pres. Swain saved Chapel Hill from the Yankees ravaging it by adding in the "fine print" of the treaty the town would be protected. Although this book is our family's personal story, it is still full of history of the war and UNC surviving it. I hope my children will carry on the tradition of telling their children the story of our family. Now they have the book to share. How do you say thank you to someone taking years out of her life (and time with sweetheart John) to put on paper our family legacy? Perhaps I can loan her my teenagers for awhile.....
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Format: Paperback
"Undaunted Heart" gave an interesting look at post-American-Civil-War conditions and how citizens of both the North and the South felt about the changes occurring around them. The book was an easy read and covered details of Ella and Smith's life before they met (including how Ella and Smith felt about the War and the issue of slavery), how they met, and their life after they married. Their life together contained many sorrows, but the marriage was a happy one. Letters, neighbor's journals, and newspaper reports were frequently quoted, giving an inside, personal look at events.

The book briefly touched on the greater issues of the time period--the hardships faced due to shortages and prejudice, the problems with unifying the nation after the War, and how various people dealt with the freed slaves. But these issues were only revealed where they impacted the lives of Ella and Smith and their families.

The level of vivid detail was excellent in some parts (especially after Ella and Smith moved North and she wrote vivid accounts of her life in her letters to her parents) and much less in others (like the few known details about how Ella and Smith met and courted, which mainly seemed to come from a neighbor's journal and a few surviving love poems).

There were black and white pictures of Ella's family, Ella, Smith, and the surviving children from Ella and Smith's marriage. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the post-Civil-War era as seen through the eyes of a well-to-do family in both the North (Ella and Smith) and the South (Ella's parents).

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Reviewed by Debbie from Different Time, Different Place
(differenttimedifferentplace. blogspot. com)
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Format: Paperback
SUZY BARILE's "Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General" is a wonderfully crafted addition to the host of books surrounding the Civil War. The book tells a love story that involves prejudice, politics, family and values--topics in the news on a daily basis.
The Yankee general is Smith Dykins Atkins from Freeport, Illinois, and a volunteer for the Union cause. The southern belle is Eleanor "Ella" Hope Swain, daughter of David Lowry Swain, governor of North Carolina from 1832-1835 and president of University of North Carolina from 1835-1868.
BARILE writes, "Ella did the unthinkable: She married a Yankee general at the close of the Civil War." A North-South marriage was as offensive to the general public in 1865 as a black-white marriage was in the 1960s. The angle is unique to books concerning the Civil War, and BARILE does a fine job of recreating the attitudes of the times and capturing the spirit of Ella and the general. BARILE has an extraordinary perspective. While searching in her mother's attic, she found a box of Ella's letters. BARILE is the great, great granddaughter of Ella and the general. The book was even more meaningful to me because I grew up in Joliet, Illinois. I didn't know Freeport had such a distinguished native son.
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I like this book because it's written by the great-great-granddaughter of Ella Swain and Smith Atkins. Ella was the daughter of the president of the University of North Carolina - and Smith Atkins was a Union general who came to Ella's father's house to inform him that the town was under Union occupation.

Against this unlikely backdrop began a passionate and controversial love story still vivid in town lore. When President Swain's daughter Ella met the Union general, life for these two young people who had spent the war on opposite sides was forever altered.

This famous courtship and marriage, needless to say, caused quite a stir. Interwoven throughout Undaunted Heart are excerpts from Ella's never-before-published letters to her parents that reveal a loving marriage that transcended differences and scandal.

Proves that truth can be stranger than fiction, as this unlikely couple forms a bond that withstands the test of time.
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