Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book review - With Walker in Nicaragua.

James Carson Jamison was one of William Walker's filibusters in Latin America. In 1909 he published a 181 page account of his adventures entitled With Walker in Nicaragua.

Jamison starts off with an overview of how Walker got his start in Nicaragua and the course of events prior to his arrival. He then explains how he enlisted in Walker's force and recounts the battles he was engaged in. An account from a comrade of Walker's final capture and execution finishes out the book.

With little available on Walker's expeditions, I found With Walker to be fascinating. Jamison writes well while splitting the difference between a history and a personal account. He doesn't always explain the over-arching view but does an admirable job recounts the events of William Walker's rise and fall in Central America. He also gives a short account of his reasons for joining Walker.

I found the account interesting and easy to read. Jamison leaves out some dates and other particulars but he is writing 50 years after the fact so the omissions are understandable. What is amazing to me is that he is able to remember as much as he does. For anyone interested in the filibustering period of American history or just wanting to read about an often over-looked historical event, I highly recommend With Walker in Nicaragua.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book review - A Blaze of Glory.

I have to admit up front, I am a fan of Jeff Shaara's work. From his novels to bookend his father's Killer Angels through the other historical novels from the American Revolution to World War 2. Seems like each is a fine work. My one complaint about Shaara's Civil War work is that he wrote only about the eastern theater of the war.

With A Blaze of Glory Shaara renders that complaint moot. In 435 gripping pages he tells the tale of the battle of Shiloh - the first major blood-letting in the west. A quick overview to set the table and the story is off and running. Generals Sherman and Johnston wrestle with issues of command and the morality of the war. An infantryman in Sherman's command and a cavalryman under Colonel Nathan Forrest confront the more common dilemma of staying alive. All join the nation in having the innocence ripped away by the bloody fighting around a small country church.

Shaara does an excellent job in bringing his characters to life. The story flows well for the most part and the sequence of events is clear and understandable. While not a history book, the novel conveys the story of Shiloh in a way that both holds the reader's attention and sparks an interest in learning more. Perhaps the best part is a note on the flyleaf stating A Blaze of Glory is the first of a new trilogy of books on the war in the west. That is good news indeed.