Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Separate Country

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks is what I chose to take with me on a recent trip to the Missouri Ozarks.  It was a great choice!  After visiting New Orleans for the first time ever this past June, this book evoked so many thoughts about the city!  As the subtitle reads "A Story of Redemption in the Aftermath of the Civil War", this is the story of a man trying to find redemption for his decisions. This is a fictionalized account of the life of Confederate General John Bell Hood, who was the last of the leading Confederate Generals to surrender in 1865.  The War had been hard on Hood who lost the use of his left arm and later lost his right leg.  He was a controversial General, appearing willing to recklessly risk his troop's lives and he left the War with a rather mixed reputation, following the loss of thousands under his command.

John Bell Hood (pictured at the right) was originally from Kentucky, but once the Civil War ended, he decided to settle in New Orleans, where he met and married Anna Marie Hedden.  He and Anna Marie had eleven children in ten years. A good part of the book is about their love story through-out their marriage.  John was not a business man, but he attempted to brokerage cotton and insurance; however, in 1878 yellow fever came to the city and as people either died or left the city, businesses failed and John lost everything. Over the next couple of years, yellow fever continued to devastate the city.  General Hood began helping with the sick, leaving his family for long periods of time.  It appeared to me that he was attempting to make amends for his War record.

There are many strong characters in the book, especially the close childhood friends of Anna Marie's who play central roles in the story, as General Hood's past catches up to him.

The story is a very sad and tragic one, but Robert Hicks tells it in a fascinating way.  I loved all the different descriptions of New Orleans and could picture right where he was talking about.   As others have remarked, this book is one about New Orleans, almost as much as it is about General John Bell Hood!

1 comment:

Bybee said...

This looks really good! I guess we were in MO at the same time...I was about 100 miles from the Ozarks.