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Jacob's Ladder: A Story of Virginia During the War Kindle Edition
Winner of the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction
A civil war saga that resonates with the bitter glory and human shame of the Confederacy.
Jacob’s Ladder is a Civil War epic, a love story that pits the indomitable longing of the human heart against circumstances of racism, slavery, and war. Duncan Gatewood, seventeen and heir to the Gatewood plantation, falls in love with Maggie, a mulatto slave, who conceives a son, Jacob. Maggie and Jacob are sold south, and Duncan is packed off to the Virginia Military Institute. As Duncan fights for Robert E. Lee, Jesse—a Gatewood slave whose love for Maggie is unrequited—escapes north and enlists in Lincoln’s army, determined to confront his former masters, while Maggie finds herself living a life she never could have imagined as the wife of a blockade runner.
From the interlocked lives of masters and slaves, Donald McCaig conjures a passionate and richly textured story in the heart of America’s greatest war. The destiny of these three compelling characters connect a Vicksburg brothel to a Richmond salon, the nightmare of a Confederate hospital to the lurid hell of battlefields at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
Winner of the John Eston Cook Award
Winner of the Boyd Military Novel Award
About the Author
― Washington Post
"Captures the details of wartime Virginia with stunning force."
"This novel blots out the protection of historical distance. It is astonishingly immediate. Its research is magnificent but never intrudes. It becomes the story of war itself, how brutal it is, how courageous, how slowly and inexorably mad."
― Mary Lee Settle
"Boldly capricious, blessed with a host of vivid and memorable characters and a wealth of striking and credible events, Donald McCaig's powerful, compassionate story is deeply rooted in the real and living presence of Virginia before, during, and after the Civil War. Jacob's Ladder is historical fiction at its finest, and it places Donald McCaig in the pantheon of the best and brightest American novelists."
― George Garrett
"The finest novel about the Civil War ever written."
― Virginia Quarterly
"McCaig’s prose is gorgeous…One of the best Civil War novels…Stunning."
― Houston Chronicle --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B00BZMP5UM
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company (December 7, 2009)
- Publication date : December 7, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 2810 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 530 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #643,049 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Donald did a great deal of research for this book. He used a great number of newspaper stories, letters, memoirs, etc. Then, he changed these stories to fit his narrative. The result is a very interesting book. He does talk about the people left at home once the war broke out; but his main emphasis is on the battles that took place and how these young men handled those.
He sets the story up by having a young lady come to a home expecting to interview the maid, Kizzy. However, she ends up being told the story by the mistress of the house. Her father and friends told her to go back to the WPA and ask them to put her somewhere else to get a better story. However, she is pulled into the story much like the reader is drawn into the book, and she returns again and again to get the rest of the story.
In general I am not a big fan of novels of this genre. There are hits in every genre and I think this is one.
Basically, this story is of the owners and slaves of Gatewood Plantation and their extended families. Here, author McCaig's epic invites the reader into the innermost worlds of white and black people, their most sublime feelings of love as well as their equally dastardly words and deeds of racism and unthinkable cruelty. At the top of the chain is Duncan Gatewood, hardly more than a boy, who falls madly in love with Maggie, an equally young slave. Their relationship and the child it produces literally tear apart the sprawling plantation society of Virginia, both black and white. Author McCaig develops a dozen other lines of revelation among the white families and their servants as they march into the inevitable holocaust that was the civil war. As the confederacy shatters the union we also experience the war through its politics and profits as well as through the eyes and hearts of Federal and Confederate armies and their families and the massive loss of life and limb on the battlefields. We see first hand the treatment of prisoners, men and women, who are convicted of sheltering runaway slaves and the work of women in hospitals for the dead and dying troops. Author McCaig's portrait of the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops is as fine as I've ever read as well as the affection former slaves held for the man they variously called "Master," "Uncle," "Father" Abraham (Lincoln). My guess is that I'm not the only reader who felt a lump in the throat when reading those passages.
Finally, it's not possible to ignore praise for the incredible quality of the writing craftsmanship that fills every page of "Jacob's Ladder." The following examples are just that, mere examples of the author's delightful creative command of language, e.g., "Mr Tyree's eyes were black as hard coal as if all the blackness in his chalky complexion had drained into them"; "all about snow-covered mounds were becoming pairs of men, standing like storks on their sleep-warmed blankets;" and, "The people crossing the bridge were as irresistible and anonymous as the tide."
"Jacob's Ladder" is a wondrous reading experience, one you're certain to recommend to all your friends.
--the author's ability to create characters that we remember and care for
--the author's ability to create characters that are historically accurate and morally nuanced
--the author's overall moral sensitivity