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Not One Among Them Whole: A Novel of Gettysburg

Not One Among Them Whole: A Novel of Gettysburg

4.7 4
by Edison McDaniels

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"An amazingly talented writer . . . NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE is a magnificently harrowing trip into the bloody horrors of the battle of Gettysburg, populated with unforgettable characters and written with stunning precision and beauty." -- Taylor Polites, author of THE REBEL WIFE

"At first glance it resembles THE KILLER ANGELS and COLD MOUNTAIN -- and its artistry


"An amazingly talented writer . . . NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE is a magnificently harrowing trip into the bloody horrors of the battle of Gettysburg, populated with unforgettable characters and written with stunning precision and beauty." -- Taylor Polites, author of THE REBEL WIFE

"At first glance it resembles THE KILLER ANGELS and COLD MOUNTAIN -- and its artistry rivals those great novels. But it explores a deeper heart of darkness than even the shambles exhausted surgeons have to deal with after Gettysburg. A terrific achievement." -- David Poyer, author of A COUNTRY OF OUR OWN and THE SHILOH PROJECT

It is the summer of 1863, and the greatest battle ever fought on American soil is in full tilt. Southern Pennsylvania has become one great grinding stone and thousands of dead or dying are its grist. In this tilted landscape, reputations are made, careers are ruined, and men and women are driven to the brink in the wake of two armies intent on killing one another. Yet opportunity is everywhere...
For the privates and officers who fight the battle, it's a kill or be killed world, with salvation or damnation just a bullet away...
For the surgeons laboring over the many wounded, opportunity knocks at the bloody tables, where the price of a man's life is all too often an arm or a leg. The cost to the surgeons, however, will be even higher...
For one undertaker in particular, the dead are a canvas, and his ability to make a body reflect the living individual is nothing short of uncanny. For Jupiter Jones, the burgeoning dead themselves are the opportunity...
And finally, for one teenage former slave, alive only because his father had the courage to bury him, opportunity comes in the form of a ten-year-old boy with a creel and only one shoe, who may or may not be a ghost...
In the summer of 1863, humanity itself is under siege. What happens amid the carnage and human flotsam of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, will be unholy, unnerving, and all but unbearable, with only this certain: not one among them will escape unscathed.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A Civil War-era novel that documents the grim wages of battle. The story begins by establishing a ghastly tenor of barbarity. The family of Cuuda, a black child, hides him in a box to keep him from harm as they travel. From inside the box, he hears the murder of his family members, but he later frees himself in order to find food. A traveling mortician named Jupiter Jones eventually rescues him; he's a "showman and purveyor of the extraordinaire," traveling from town to town, tricking the afflicted into buying his curative oil. He stole its essential ingredient from a tribe in Africa and although it does genuinely have medicinal powers, it also causes madness. Still, the war brings him plenty of business as the dead litter the countryside of the North and South. Meanwhile, three Union doctors—Solomon Hardy, Josiah Boyd, and Tobias Ellis—struggle to keep pace with all the wounded men sent their way. Debut author McDaniels affectingly describes scenes of battle, but his most achingly poignant depictions are of war's aftermath: "The church-turned-hospital had become a horrid place…where four men died every hour day and night and the rain and blood ran as red mud across the ground." The surgeons work indefatigably to save whomever they can, comfort the rest, and try to preserve their own sanity. In another storyline, a Union soldier, Ezra Coffin, is badly wounded in battle in southern Pennsylvania and finds himself beside Maj. Tom Jersey, a Confederate soldier who's just as badly hurt. Despite being enemies, they forge a kind of friendship due to their shared anguish and looming mortality. McDaniels skillfully braids these multiple plotlines into a coherent whole, but his quick leapfrogging from one subplot to another can be wearying. Also, the story's impressive historical authenticity comes at a price of unrelenting gloominess, so readers should prepare for a dexterous but austere experience. A gritty, unalloyed treatment of a savage conflict.

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.69(d)

Meet the Author


Edison McDaniels's writing is informed by medicine and the supernatural. His work received honorable mention in the seventeenth edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and has been published in Paradox Magazine, The Summerset Review, The Armchair Aesthete, On The Premises Magazine, and others. McDaniels, a graduate of Stanford University, is board certified in adult and pediatric neurosurgery, with over 7,000 operations to his credit. Edison and his wife Jean collect historical etchings and attend at least 1-2 baseball games a week between April and October (more, if the Minnesota Twins are in town).

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NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE: A Novel of Gettysburg 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
While I cannot admit to being more than a passing knowledge of the American Civil War, I am obsessed with the Ken Burns / PBS / History Channel viewpoints of the different battles and the people who waged them.  While walking us through the horrors that are warfare after the days following the battle of Gettysburg by following soldiers, one from each side, we are given an entrée into the scene: as gripping as it is graphic.  The story, however, really focuses on the lives and days of characters not immersed in the actual battle: but are battling through the aftermath nonetheless. Surgeons, freed slaves, embalmers and citizens all play a part in this story, giving it a sense of grounding and even normalcy in a very traumatic and far from normal time. There are some fairly gruesome scenes: medical procedures are detailed and described in ways that shock our modern sensibilities and beliefs.  Surgeons working while nearly asleep on their feet as they try to save one more, when the dirt, the lack of sterile fields, sheer volume of wounded and the weather all conspired against that goal.  Not surprising to me was the despair often felt by the surgeons, the small glimpses into their lives ‘pre-battle’ and the dichotomy that rages within some as they battle the demons of doubt and hopelessness to keep moving forward.   While I didn’t particularly connect with any one character, probably because McDaniels spins a story that hit me with a visceral punch, I had guarded myself against becoming too involved.  I did, however, find myself fascinated with Jupiter Jones, snake-oil salesman and talented embalmer with his assertions that the dead speak to him, and maintains a certain attention to providing dignity to his clients in a situation where dignity and decorum are often passed over for expediency.   This is a book that brings the horrors of war and the contrast of humanity in the most inhumane of conditions possible. I suggest this book for anyone studying war, the American Civil War or American History.  I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE gave me an entirely new appreciation for what everyone went through in the United States Civil War. From the soldiers to the surgeons to the surgeons' assistants to the freed slaves to the people who lived in the areas surrounding the battlefields - not a single person is left whole.  McDaniels brings his knowledge as a a surgeon to the battlefield, giving us gory, realistic and matter-of-fact descriptions of the injuries and decisions.  This expertise brings life to a book that is really about death.  I liked that I learned a lot about the Civil War while reading this book; in fact, my husband and I are planning to revisit Gettysburg this summer because of this book. My only quibble is that it was difficult to keep the characters straight sometimes.   Defintely a must-read for any fan of American history. 
LiaBurres More than 1 year ago
A Novel of Gettysburg and the war.  With much thought and detail this book will put you right in the scene of what the soldiers when through during the war.  Even some of the details of how they had to work to save them men's lives (gross), had more details than most could even handle. So many lives were lost during that battle, along with many others.  Our soldiers deserve the memory of their lives to live on.  This book does just that with the fact that the way the book is written, you feel as if you were there with them and that you personally knew them. Mr. McDaniels went into details of how the surgeons had been so exhausted during the days of the war and trying to save all of the lives that they possibly could.  They were trying to save the soldiers lives and while they had very little or no rest whatsoever, they were still on their feet and trying to keep their men alive. I have to recommend this book to anyone that knows a soldier that has came home from a war, loves to read war books or action books.  If you have a very sensitive and weak stomach, I would suggest staying away from the book.  It's that detailed.
WisconsinRon More than 1 year ago
Edison McDaniels is surgeon and a talented, brave writer. His book describes the terrible conditions that surrounded the wounded, the surgeons, the embalmers, and the dead at Gettysburg. This story is not for the fainthearted; McDaniels bombards the reader with vivid details of wounds, procedures, and the overwhelming task of caring for soldiers. He trusts that you have come into his world to experience reality and to live in that world long enough to have your sense of history deepened. The immense suffering and loss is underscored by two enemy soldiers lying on the field unnoticed, bonding in ways that demonstrate the strength of the human spirit and, at the same time, how inconsequential they were to the totality of the struggle. Jupiter Jones is a talented embalmer, an artist who respects his clients and works to return them to a world outside the war zone with dignity. The exhausted surgeons do their work without the knowledge of sterile conditions and time for aftercare. If you want to understand the Civil War, this book provides necessary insight.