Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War

by Howard Bahr

From the publisher:
After returning from the Civil War, Cass Wakefield means to live out the rest of his days in his hometown in Mississippi. But when a childhood friend asks him to accompany her to Franklin, Tennessee, to recover the bodies of her father and brother from the battlefield where they died, Cass cannot refuse. As they make their way north in the company of two of Cass's brothers-in-arms, memories of the war emerge with overwhelming vividness. Before long the group has assembled on the haunted ground of Franklin, where past and present--the legacy of war and the narrow hope of redemption--will draw each of them to a painful reckoning.

From the Washington Post:
Howard Bahr's The Judas Field recreates this seminal moment in American history with prose that is vivid, unflinching and often incantatory. The book's pace and detail are wrenching, and it is starkly devoid of romanticism. Within the battlefield scenes, Bahr's accomplishment is magnificent: a fully realized depiction of controlled mass butchery on a field of blood, body parts and utterly obliterated human beings. The reader puts down the book with a sense of shock to find he is not actually inside a level of hell.

From Publishers Weekly:
Bahr (The Black Flower) moves back and forth between the tattered post-Reconstruction South and the war. He describes the effect of weapons on flesh in gruesome detail and brings to life a long-gone era with its strange smells, foods, fashions and principles. Though his uneducated characters often seem a little too articulate, their insights are excellent.

From Library Journal:
This beautiful novel turns the tables on our view of war; the combatants we meet are witty and wry, and we can't help but be charmed by the descriptions of their dusty, dreary, less than honorable and unheroic routine. The final return to Franklin brings the memories to life and changes everyone involved. Highly recommended.

From Kirkus:
Carefully written and nuanced, akin to Frederick Busch's Night Inspector as much as to Michael Shaara's Killer Angels.

From CWBN:
Howard Bahr's previous novels showed a strong Faulkner influence; his interest in the Civil war seems secondary to writing very good literature. We have no doubt that this will be regarded not just as a good Civil War novel but a good novel altogether. (This is the first softcover edition of last year's hardcover release.)