Rich Man's War - Poor Man's Fight
Manufacturer: First Edition Design eBook Publishing
Rich Man's War - Poor Man's Fight, is the story of two Scot - Irish families who left Ireland for the promise of a better life in America. While accurately set in time and place, this is not a battle by battle account of Civil War history. It is the story of a determined people who were pressed into a war by a country who spurned their kind and used them as pawns so their wealthy sons could be kept out of harm's way. One family, a young man who hoped to use his family trade as a sword smith entered through the port of New York in 1862. New York was in the midst of the conscription riots as Abraham Lincoln's cabinet desperately fought to fill the ranks of an Army to hold the Union together. A second family left Dublin for New Orleans. They arrived as organizers tried to convince young Irish men that the South's fight for independence from the federal government is a struggle that the Irish should understand. Fate brings the young men together on opposing sides of a Virginia battlefield where they collapse in exhaustion and come to realize the irony of their meeting and the cruel circumstances that brought them together as enemies.
William Brannan is an Irish immigrant who arrives in New York City in 1862. Seventeen years old and eager to get a job, he is scooped up by the Union Army. He protests, "I don't even know what your war is about" and runs away. Of course, his retreat is temporary. Expecting to stay with an uncle until he could secure employment, William soon discovers that the Irish community of Five Points is both poor and dangerous. However, William is different from the thousands of other people packed into the area -- he has a skill as a knife-maker which allows him to make a good living. He even falls in love. Although he tries to pass some of his good fortune on to his uncle and his family, jealousy and politics drives a wedge between them.
The growing unrest among the Irish over Abraham Lincoln's draft exacerbates William's anger with his uncle's activities in the Five Points' gangs. The competition between the Irish and the newly-freed black people for the few jobs available becomes the flashpoint for violence. And then, as expected, shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, William is drafted into the Union Army. As he leaves, he discovers that his uncle has already left his family to fight with the south.
And so begins a story repeated throughout the zones of battle during American Civil War, families torn apart ... even immigrant families. Thompson's characters ring true and it's clear he is a talented storyteller. I expect to see more of his books in the future.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2012)