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JOURNEY THROUGH HELL ALMOST TO HEAVEN
For more than a century and a half since the end of that War, for the most part Southerners have almost reverently referred to the Civil War as “The Lost Cause”, and to its military leaders [Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, etc.] as heroes. The author leaves it up to the reader to decide whether they should be remembered as valiant heroes or traitors to the United States. What is certain is that their actions led to the devastation of the South and a legacy of bigotry and oppression of blacks for far more than a century.
Inspired by recent often violent disputes about displaying the Confederate flag in state and local government areas, and monuments to Confederate military and political ‘heroes’ in public parks and government buildings, Mel King wrote this novel. Set against a background of actual historical events, a young doctor experiences the horrors of a war that pitted family members against each other, countrymen against countrymen. He realizes the truth of the phrase coined by Union General Sherman: “War is Hell.” He concludes that the primary motivation of the South in starting the War was to preserve the abominable institution of slavery.
Author King shows how military leaders on both sides failed to recognize that recent advancement in the accuracy and capabilities of weapons of war made the predominantly practiced Napoleonic tactics obsolete. The result was massive deaths and casualties on both sides, enhanced by some seemingly uncaring generals. The novel raises the issue of whether the South’s military leaders should be remembered as heroes or as traitors to our nation. It also shows a dark side of Confederate General Lee who, possibly due to his belief in his infallibility and/or lack of understanding how new weapons made Napoleonic tactics obsolete, ignored the pleadings of his second-in-command and ordered thousands of his troops on a suicidal mission.
The novel also shows that the War changed medical science and treatment from a prewar condition that had changed little in over a thousand years, to the first steps forward into modern medicine, with recognition of the importance of sanitary conditions, the use of anesthetics during surgery, and the keeping of detailed medical records. This is revealed as the reader follows the life and deeds of a fictional character, a young medical student who joins the Union Army and experiences the horrors and successes of the War as a surgeon in the Medical Corps.
As with his previous books, the author hopes that his new novel will inspire an interest in history, because, in the words of George Santayana:
“THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.”