White Doves at Morning

White Doves at Morning

4.1 23
by James Lee Burke

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Drawing on his personal family history, James Lee Burke crafts a story of enormous scope about three best friends from Louisiana who -- despite their own misgivings about the "Cause" -- enlist in the Confederate Army and set off to war. Willie Burke, the character based on Burke's own great, great uncle, befriends an attractive and uncommonly bright young slave and


Drawing on his personal family history, James Lee Burke crafts a story of enormous scope about three best friends from Louisiana who -- despite their own misgivings about the "Cause" -- enlist in the Confederate Army and set off to war. Willie Burke, the character based on Burke's own great, great uncle, befriends an attractive and uncommonly bright young slave and teaches her how to read in violation of local laws. White Doves at Morning is a rich love story set in a time of upheaval that affected all men and women, from slave to enlisted man to plantation owner. Listeners will hear Burke at this finest-this is a genuine masterpiece combining enthralling storytelling; controlled, lyrical prose, and astutely drawn characters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following the publication of his 11th Dave Robicheaux thriller, bestselling Burke (Bitterroot; Purple Cane Road) keeps the action in Louisiana, turning back the clock to the Civil War. Central to this brooding saga are hotheaded young idealist Willie Burke, son of a boardinghouse owner, and a beautiful slave girl named Flower Jamison. She is the illegitimate daughter of Ira Jamison, the callous owner of the infamous Angola Plantation. Flower's mother was murdered by a brutal overseer, Rufus Atkins, just after she gave birth, and Rufus has been a malevolent presence in Flower's life ever since. Secretly taught to read and write by Willie Burke, she now does laundry for the town brothel. Befriended by Abigail Dowling, a young Yankee abolitionist who is helping slaves escape the South, Flower clings to the hope that Jamison will acknowledge her as his daughter; meanwhile, Jamison has his eye on Abigail. The war gets into full swing, and Willie loses his best friend at Shiloh because of Jamison's cowardly dereliction. Wounded and left to die, Willie is saved by Abigail, who brings him home and nurses him back to health. Against her protests, he attempts to return to battle but is taken captive and-the war now over-escapes to confront racist vigilantes intent on shutting down Flower's school for ex-slaves. Burke has created a cast of strong, if somewhat stereotypical, characters; readers will warm to outspoken, irrepressible Willie as much as they deplore the evil Atkins. Although at times a bit forced, this moving morality play shows a different dimension of this gifted writer. Agent, Phillip Spitzer. (Nov.) Forecast: Fans of John Jakes will particularly enjoy this rare historical offering from Burke. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Burke's latest novel, from an earlier New Iberia, LA, tells the story of three friends, two based on his own ancestors Robert Perry and Willie Burke. Together with Jim Stubbefield, these boyhood friends join the Confederate Army. The author captures the horrors of the Civil War and its aftermath, describing the effects on those left behind; the corruption of governments thrown into place after the war; the infamous jayhawkers who ravaged both sides of the Mason-Dixon line; and the notorious Knights of the White Camillia-the foundation of the Ku Klux Klan. Burke proves his writing skill as he weaves the lives of people from all levels of society into this work. He again shows his craftsmanship with language and re-creates a very dark time in America's past. Will Patton's narration is flawless; highly recommended for all libraries.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Think the rumbustious Dave Robicheaux novels (Jolie Blon’s Bounce, p. 437, etc.) have so little mystery that they could dispense with the mystery formula altogether? Here’s a test case: a Civil War/Reconstruction yarn that’s also a fictionalized family history. Not that Burke deprives himself of murder, from the opening execution of runaway slave Sarie Jamison by Rufus Atkins, the brutal taskmaster of Angola plantation owner Ira Jamison. On the eve of Fort Sumter 24 years later, Sarie’s (and Ira’s) daughter Flower is a laundress in New Iberia, Burke’s Yoknapatawpha. She’s been befriended by abolitionist Abigail Dowling and secretly taught to read by Willie Burke, who proves that anti-authoritarian bias of his heroes can’t be blamed on the War Between the States, since he seems to have been born mouthing off. Beginning his military career by insulting Captain Atkins, he marches off to war with his friend Jim Stubbefield. A third musketeer, pro-slavery law student Robert Perry, vanishes into the shadows while Willie and Jim face their baptism at Shiloh--an experience so harrowing that Willie moves up to insulting General Nathan Bedford Forrest before he returns home to switch from battling the Yankees to battling the likes of the White League and the Knights of the White Camellia. By then, the leading characters have long settled into roles familiar from Burke’s contemporary fiction: the idealist who can’t help picking fights (Willie), his familiar (Jim), the all-powerful Father of Darkness (Jamison), his untouchable enforcer (Atkins), the heroine whose soul provides a battleground for good and evil (Abigail), the victim whose body ditto (Flower), and their seething compatriots (everybodyelse). Shorn of any mystery but the mystery of evil, this roiling, deeply old-fashioned tale is less successful as a stand-alone revisiting of The Clansman and Gone With the Wind than as a kind of all-purpose backstory--or, more accurately, a prototype--of the Robicheaux saga.
From the Publisher
People [A] Civil War blockbuster....Extraordinary.

The Washington Post Book World Violent, lyrical, and engrossing....The man has a touch of the poet in him.

Product Details

Pocket Star
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

In a startling departure, James Lee Burke has written an epic story of love, hate and survival set against the tumultuous background of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

At the center of the tale are James lee Burke's own ancestrors, Robert Perry, who comes from the slave-owning family of wealth and privliege, and Willy Burke, born of Irish immigrants, a poor boy who is as irreverent as he is brave and decent. Despite personal and political conflicts, both men join the Confederate Army, determined not to back down in their commitment to their moral belirfs, to their friends, and to the abolitionist woman with whom both are infatuated.

Willie's friend, Flower Jamison, a beautiful young black slave is owned by -- and fathered by, although he will not admit it -- Ira Jamison. Owner of Angola Plantation, Ira Jamison returns after the war and transforms his plantation into a penal colony which houses prisoners he rents out as laborers to replace the emancipated slaves.

Against all local laws and customs, Willie teaches Flower how to read and write. She receives the help and protection of Abigail Dowling, the Massachusetts abolitionist who has attracted both Willie and Robert Perry's attention. These love affairs are fraught with danger and compromised by the great and grim events of the Civil War and its aftermatch.

With unforgettable battle scenes at Shiloh and in the Shenandoah Valley, White Doves at Morning is an epic masterpiece of historical fiction.

Meet the Author

James Lee Burke, a rare winner of two Edgar Awards, and named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, is the author of more than thirty previous novels and two collections of short stories, including such New York Times bestsellers as Light of the World, Creole Belle, Swan Peak, The Tin Roof Blowdown, and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

Brief Biography

New Iberia, Louisiana and Missoula, Montana
Date of Birth:
December 5, 1936
Place of Birth:
Houston, Texas
B.A., University of Missouri, 1959; M.A., University of Missouri, 1960

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White Doves at Morning 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
gke More than 1 year ago
The characters appeared reasonably realistic. At the end, I was confused concerning the historical applications of the main characters. I suspect the situations to be reasonably accurate for the period demonstrating the "classes" in the southern society during the war.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While the author as tediously and meticulously woven his story and cast of uncomely characters into this novel, they don't necessariy seem "real". Ira Jamison, Abigail Dowling and Willie Burke are not very convincing in their roles. In fact, Willie Burke seems more like a character out of Lonesome Dove who was also obsessing over a dead friend and his burial just as Willie is obsessing over his friend Jim who was killed in side by side field combat. Ms. Dowling, the yankee abolitionist, fulfils her noble role as a nurse and advocate of the underground railroad, but in no stellar dimensions. On the other hand, Flower Jamison, the young mulatto woman, matures into a strong negro heroine as she bucks the repressive bondage slavery has so long held her captive. The author, no holds barred, tells it like it was. The truth, realities of the war and battlefield atrocities, soldiers and the rank and file low-life of that period, leave little to the imagination. It's all spelled out, all the gory graphic details. In my opinion, this book will appeal more to the male audience. If you southern belles out there really, really loved Margaret Mitchell's G.W.T.W., White Doves is not your must read. This novel neither romanticizes or glamorizes the Civil War era. We are not charmed by a hero like the debonair Jeb Stuart or sauve Major Mosby. Don't be fooled (as I was) by the gracious and oh-so-southern antebellum mansion nestled amidst the smoky Spanish moss hanging in the live oaks. It's not all moonlight and magnolias by an means.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He uses modern day terms such as baby sit and gene pool. Unknown in that era. Also dialogue is sometimes strange and unatural. Refers to chinese laborers as coulees. Burke is my favorite modern author but this book makes me wonder if someone else collaboratef with him......someone not of his caliber. His signature descriptive talents shine thro though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too short for the money...very quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book wasn't what I expected by looking at the cover it has much more depth. Burke has an amazing ability to connect the reader to the story through clear, realistic, and detailed descriptions. I really enjoyed getting to know each character, hearing his/ her thoughts and learning of his/ her struggles. This book captures the Civil War from both sides. A truly great read, although graphic -- if I can handle it, so can you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book about the Civil War era. I literally felt as though I had been transported to the past. My great-great grandfather fought at the Battle of Shiloh. Mr. Burke, you are awesome. Keep writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved every word. Hopefully the author will revisit historical themed stories again. He's highly rated with John Jakes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Burke's excellent saga provides a much needed antidote to the familiar Civil War melodramas of John Jakes and Jeff Shaara. On Burke's Bayou Teche, there is no glorious cause, no Romantic heroics. To Burke, the Civil War is a Hobbesian world of evil, anarchy and inhumanity. Here, even the well meaning efforts of abolitionist Abigail Dowling lead only to death and misery. Burke's well-drawn characters like Dowling and the author's ancestor Willie Burke come across as real human beings, not wooden historical role players. This is a must read for Civil War buffs seeking a better understanding of the war's effects on the common Southerner, far from the great battles and their larger than life participants.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Lee Burke is without question the most literally adept writer of his genre, or of any genre today.WHITE DOVES AT MORNING is the result of the perfect combination of words and it is a beautiful, compelling read. It is a book I have given to others who admire his works, and I am ordering another for myself. The horror of war is in no way minimized, and the characters with their humor and insights as well as their courage make this an unforgettable read. Do not miss this book.
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He dipped his had to them and padded off with his gifts fro nature
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grr! Lolz
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yeppers35 More than 1 year ago
This be a gud boke. It has a lott of big wurds, tho.