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Hallam's War

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2009

    A hard book to put down!

    Southerner Hugh Hallam, over a period of a few years just before the Civil War, makes several life-altering decisions: to leave the sophistication of the city to become a rural cotton plantation owner with slaves, to attempt to grow and harvest cotton in new ways that might save the cotton- and slave-based Southern culture from gradual demise, to treat his slaves humanely and gradually free them as his new farming methods take hold, to join the Confederate Army when war breaks out. "Hallam's War" skillfully and articulately weaves those decisions and their consequences, and his striking wife Serena's unwavering support of them and her husband, into a gripping story that moves forward in the shadow of the impending collision of the ideologies and cultures of the North and the South, all while subtly exploring the question "How could a good man own slaves"? Full of precise, elegant descriptions of Southern life and values on the farm and in the city, no-holds-barred accounts of the attitudes and behavior of different owners toward their slaves, and brutally vivid depictions of the violence of the Civil War, "Hallam's War" also has other thought-provoking relevance in today's world of overt and covert racism, unthinking permanent depletion of natural resources, foolishly polarized partisanship, individual greed triumphing over the greater good. A hard book to put down, very enjoyable and rewarding.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    War and No Peace

    To stand out in the crowded field of Civil War novels, an author must do three things: spin a crackling good yarn, bring the past to life, and - without being pedantic - explore some universal truths about those trying times. Hallam's War succeeds admirably on all counts.

    The story opens on a scene involving an itinerant slave trader in Hugh Hallam's hometown of Palmyra, Tennessee. Hallam, who comprehends slavery's evil despite being a slaveholder himself, looks on as a less conscience-ridden neighbor breaks up a family by purchasing a fourteen year old girl. Worse still, that neighbor makes no effort to hide his leering sexual interest in his purchase. Hallam, whose farm is nearby, purchases the girl's father (the mother is nowhere about), in a forlorn effort to maintain some contact between the parent and child.

    The author renders this scene without excessive sentimentality; indeed, she brings the awful business of slave commerce to life, blending the banal and the tragic with colorful, reportorial detail.

    As the opening episode shows, Hallam's war will occur within himself as well as throughout the land. When war does break out, Hallam joins the Confederate army as a colonel in charge of a Tennessee regiment. The author paints on a broad canvas. Besides Palmyra, the story's action occurs in Memphis, Washington DC, and historic battlefields in Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. Particularly dramatic scenes occur in Richmond, Virginia, where Mrs. Hallam, now working as a nurse, sees the awful consequences of military combat. Several well known figures of the Confederacy, including Jefferson Davis, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert E Lee, and Mary Chesnut, make brief, but convincing, appearances in this story.

    So does Abraham Lincoln. Hallam has heard the rumors about Lincoln's intent to issue the Emancipation Proclamation as soon as the Union Army has won a decisive victory on the battlefield. Although Hallam desperately wants to prevent such a victory, he has come to agree with many of the principles upon which Lincoln is acting. The novel ends just after the battle of Antietam. It was little more than a stalemate, but just enough of a Union victory to persuade Lincoln to issue his Proclamation. The war will continue for several years, and the reader may hope that Ms. Rosen is considering a sequel. -- Steve Stein

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    "Hallam's War", a beautifully written book about the plight of the Civil War south.

    "Hallam's War is a beautifully written book. It describes in vivid terms the challenging times for the South during, before and after the Civil War. Most important, it describes the Southerners in human terms. Instead of a general stereotype, it tells of Southerners who struggled with their conscience about slavery and treated slaves well, as well as those who took terrible advantage of the system. "Hallam's War" is not only a well told story, but also an important document toward understanding, in balanced human terms, the plight of the Civil War south" Scott Hayes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully told, particularly relevant

    I'm not a huge fan of historical novels, although I can be
    persuaded. This is the kind of story that persuades me. And, as you will see, the issues underlying the story are issues we are still trying to deal with today. Rosen has obviously done a lot of research to make this story come so beautifully to life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    insightful look at the antebellum south

    Mexican war veteran Hugh Hallam relocates to Tennessee with his wife Serena, their children and their slaves. The former Virginian establishes Palmyra Farm. His neighbors think Hugh is an idiot as he cares about the well being of his slaves trying to keep families together and providing them with cabins in five of these well kept abodes live eight men, five women and six children in a sixth cabin resides his top hand French, a black slave he bought in New Orleans three years ago. He also works the field another taboo by the owners. Serena misses her upper crust life back in Charleston, but loves her husband so she goes with him.------------ When the Civil War breaks out, Hugh a seasoned soldier and graduate of West Point joins the Confederacy although he has doubts about slavery and the future of the southern economy. He commands the 8th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, which fights at Shiloh where he is wounded and taken prisoner. Meanwhile Serena runs their farm and raises the children.----------------- HALLAM¿S WAR is a powerful Civil War tale that vividly describes life in the south just prior to the conflict and during the war. Especially descriptive is the slave market where preadolescent girls are sold into bondage that separates them from their parents and includes acceptable sexual molestation by their owners and the battle hospitals where what seems barbaric practices today were the norm. Fans of Civil War dramas will appreciate Elisabeth Payne Rosen¿s insightful look at the antebellum south.---------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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