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HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

David Madden Likes Silent We Stood

David Madden, novelist, historian, and all-around man of letters, just wrote a very kind review of Silent We Stood at Civil War Book Review. Here’s an excerpt:

“More than many Civil War novelists, Chappell is fully in command of the art of fiction. To contrast Joseph's response to violence against slaves, Chappell uses the device of juxtaposition. Feeling the eyes of maimed slaves upon him causes ‘the skin on his back’ to tighten ‘like scabrous wounds.’ Chappell juxtaposes that line to ‘Images flashed: thick, hard scars, the nubs on Bekah's hand,’ where two fingers had been hacked off. For Bekah the miasma from the river bottom is a metaphor for the ambience of slavery. “You breathe in that miasma and it gets all over your insides.’ To express a parallel of her feelings to Joseph's, Chappell juxtaposes that line to “Joseph, feverish and chilled, dreamed of being buried alive.’

“Especially memorable are the chapters describing the town on fire and the responses of the people; the torture of Bekah and Samuel, who is innocent of setting the fire but who confesses to save her; Joseph, Samuel, and Bekah hiding a runaway mother and child, both of whom die; and a chapter delineating the vacillating mentality of Reverend Boedeker.

“Ending on a personal note, I am eager to say that, as a Civil War novelist and historian, I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read.”

Thank you David Madden!


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