The civil war split the loyalties of many families. Sometimes it split the loyalties of a single person...
War was in the air! It moved through the south like molasses over a biscuit. When war came knocking on Tennessee's door, Aaron Richardson could not answer the call. The son of a slave owner, he was born to privilege on Calla, a beautiful plantation nestled into the rolling hills of his home state. But Aaron rejected both privilege and slavery.
Even though his father, Big Jim, arranged for his sons to be officers in the Confederate army, Aaron could not wear gray. Could he put on a blue uniform and step onto the battlefield against his home? Against fellow Southerners? Against his brother, Jim Jr.?
He fell in love with Deborah Harris, but her father violently and unjustly rejected him. Why? He did not understand. What he did understand was that he had to leave Tennessee. He had to get away from a cause he believed was wrong.
As Aaron roamed the north to avoid the conflict, he met Gertie Carlson and fell in love a second time. Now, not only was he torn between blue and gray, but he was also torn between two women.
Could he make a choice, or would they both be taken away from him? Before he could find the answer, the turbulent events of the times swept him onto the battlefield. He made an immediate difference. Aaron Richardson had the eye. But the harsh reality of battle ended his part all too soon.
As the war came to a close, the war inside Aaron continued to rage until there was only one chance to save his personal world. But could the Tennessee Yankee take that chance?
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“Do you think war is glorious? Do you want to rush out there and risk your life to fight for some politician's belief?”
“Smart boy. That's rare. Most of our kids will rush to the battlefield drunk with bravery.”
In true North and South style (the book by John Jakes) Herb Hughes reveals another family torn apart by the American Civil War, yet he takes it even deeper by tearing at the loyalty of a single person, Aaron Richardson, who rejects privilege and slavery, but also rejects putting on the gray uniform of his Confederate homeland. He flees to the north, away from the beautiful plantation home, Calla, and a beautiful Southern Belle, Deborah, and from this cause which in his heart he believes is wrong.
The next day a cheer rippled through the ranks as word of the Confederate retreat passed along from group to group. Aaron did not cheer. He found nothing in war worth cheering about. Even on the winning side, you still had to bury your dead and tend to your wounded.
Far away from his southern roots, he falls in love with Gertie Carlson, and now his heart is ripped asunder once again between two women, not just between two worlds; yet, as was the case for most who tried to escape the war, it comes upon him full force and he is swept into the conflict, revealing his own personal struggles deep inside his heart.
Again, the author portrays the realities of the American Civil War in honesty and the authenticity of the historical research is evident throughout the narrative. Not only that, but the character's emotions and inner turmoil creates well-rounded and engaging characters which a reader can easily connect to. A little bit of jumping around in the timeline is confusing at times, but for the most part does not disengage the reader from the forward-moving plot. So many times novels of this nature and theme tend to rely on the battle, itself, to move along the story, but Hughes shows himself a skilled author by gifting the reader with a story on and off the battlefield. You really get to know the characters, a young man struggling with his choices and belief system in a chaotic world, a young woman beset with her fight against prejudice as her life tumbles down a dark hole, as well as other characters, all which give nods to some of the great Southern historical novels of our time. Again, if you are fan of John Jakes' novel, North and South, or of Gone With the Wind, or Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, then this is the next book in your “must read list.”
“You did your duty and performed it well. There is no shame in that. All creatures go home, so we'll be together soon enough. But it's not time right now, not for you or that girl out there. It is time for that other creature, but he's not going to like his next world very much. He's not going to the place where you and I will be together one day. Now, pick up your rifle, Bullseye, and take aim.”
This story is an easy read, and a reader will be able to finish in one afternoon, and even though fans of the aforementioned books above in the review will enjoy this one, there is one caveat – while enjoyable and on the same thematic levels as those books, this one lacks the inherent literary quality of Jakes' or Mitchell's novels. There is a connective quality to the characters, and the dialogue is believable, but this book slightly lacked the dimension and depth of an immersive tale. It is enjoyable enough to warrant a read, an “appetizer” before the main course... delightful and tasty, but something which fills but does not provide the greatest amount of filling substance needed to feel satisfied. However, sometimes the appetizer is all you need... depending on your situation and circumstances. If a reader has never read anything about the American Civil War, let this book be the appetizer and his other book, Conecuh, the main course. After satiating yourself a few days on Hughes' two books, you may well feel historically and emotionally satisfied.
“Tennessee Yankee” by Herb Hughes receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company
Author Herb Hughes, an Alabama native, worked in the computer industry for over two decades before leaving to create a successful private business. He later sold his business to focus on writing novels.
From Mr. Hughes:
"Since the time I was a teenager, stories have swirled around in my mind. It was embarrassing when called upon in a business meeting, and I was so deep into my imagination, I had no idea what the group had been discussing or what they wanted me to contribute.
Now, several novels later, I find the process of creation more compelling and more interesting than ever. I write in the present, but my stories are about the past and the future: historical fiction and science fiction. I find both fascinating.
For historical fiction, I enjoy most eras but prefer the civil war. It is such a profound part of our past. The chasm that was created still features prominently in our thinking today.
My science fiction is not the typical galactic shoot-'em-up. I prefer to explore the paths less traveled. If you are looking for something a little different, and if your interests are as varied as mine, I invite you to join me on one or more of my adventures."