Review by Beverly J. Rowe, MyShelf.Com
Two Brothers: One North, One South is historical fiction with an authentic flavor, written in a courtly, rather formal rhetoric that places it firmly in the nineteenth century and, best of all, it’s based on the actual histories of the main characters. We get a peek at what the famous poet, Walt Whitman, may have been like as he carried out his duties at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C., where two brothers, both critically wounded, and each supporting a different side of the great American conflict, are patients. Whitman becomes a link between these two men and their families in this imaginative re-creation of this terrible time in America’s history.
The story begins at the end of the fighting, at the bedside of William Prentiss, a Confederate soldier. His brother, Clifton, a Union officer, is a patient in a different ward of the hospital. Unforgettable characters amid the tension of a war-torn country in this novel are well worth investing the time to read it.
I found that I had to pay close attention to the headings of each chapter, since the novel jumped back and forth from the end of the conflict to the period just before the outbreak of the war and the months and years between, and back to the aftermath of the war. Jones’ extensive research is evident, and he carries the well worn cliche of brother-against-brother to a new level. The battles come alive as both sides of the conflict are well represented, and the story caused me to be sympathetic to the ideals of both sides as well as pointing out the flaws in the thinking of each side. The descriptions of every-day life seemed realistic, right down to the clothing worn by the characters.
Civil War buffs and anyone interested in the history of our great country, and what helped to mold it into what it is today, will relish this book as it outlines how a simple conflict of interest and differing views led to such a catastrophic war.