As a follow-up to Karen’s article about Homeland, (I can’t admit to being a certain librarian), I’ve had a month of just enjoying Civil War novels. While reading Homeland, I was also listening to Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields. Downloaded from the Overdrive Audiobook Section of TBPL’s Virtual Collection, I listened to it on my MP3 player. This travelogue takes the listener to ten civil war battlefields, beginning with Shaara’s childhood walk across Gettysburg’s field of horror where Pickett’s charge took place. I have walked this field too, and felt the loss of six thousand boys’ lives, a further four thousand were injured. It is hard to understand Lee’s willingness to risk so much in a field where the good ground was owned by the North. Jeff Shaara’s descriptions of the battlefields takes you to ten of the major battles, chronologically, and helps the listener to understand the why and how of each location. It is a fascinating overview, and for those who would some day like to travel to these battlegrounds, it is a great guide.
A second audiobook to enjoy is the Starbuck series by Bernard Cornwell, beginning with Rebel they are all available through Overdrive. Thoroughly researched and full of adventurous spirit, they trace the experiences of Nathan Starbuck, son of a fiery Northern preacher, who rebels and becomes a Southern fighter. The depiction of Manassas is well done, the confidence and confusion on both sides of the battlefield, the randomness of death and the impossible moments of bravery. This series will keep you listening until the early hours of the morning.
For a lighter more feminine touch, try The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini. Joanna, a slave on the Chester plantation, is laundress and seamstress to the family. When she escapes, she reached the Elm Creek plantation, where she gives birth to her first child, only to be recaptured and sent to South Carolina. Joanna produces a quilt to remember her trail to freedom, holding desperately onto the idea of freedom. The Civil War as seen from the view of a slave, is painfully slow, and frightening, but Joanna is determined to “keep breathing” until she can be free.