Two Brothers: One North, One South

Two Brothers: One North, One South

by David Henderson Jones

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Overview


Exceptionally researched and keenly accurate to actual events, this harrowing novel expands upon the story of poet Walt Whitman, whose documented compassion for the wounded and dying soldiers of the Civil War brings him to Armory Square Hospital in Washington, DC, at the bedside of Rebel soldier William Prentiss. Just after the fighting has ended, William’s brother Clifton, a Union officer, is admitted into another ward of the same hospital, and Whitman becomes the sole link between the two boys and their fractured family. Through their story, the narrative is swept from the hospital to Medfield Academy in Baltimore, where the Prentiss family makes its home, and onwards to the drawing rooms of high-society Richmond and the battlefields where North and South collide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979689840
Publisher: Staghorn Press
Publication date: 02/25/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author


David H. Jones is a former Navy officer and entrepreneur. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Two Brothers: One North, One South 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many authors who attempt to write historical fiction have difficulty weaving their story onto the backdrop of the historical time-period they use as a setting. Those authors could learn a lot from David H. Jones. Taking only a few snippets of journals, memoirs, and obscure newspaper articles, Jones expertly tells the tale of a Maryland family driven apart by the Civil War. The youngest brother takes up arms with the Confederacy, while an older brother becomes a Union officer. Both serve with distinction, meeting on the field of battle at Petersburg. The main characters in the book are all historical figures, and the esteemed poet Walt Whitman is a key figure in the book, as he spends time with both brothers as they are recuperating from wounds. The author does a masterful job of taking the historical characters and events and filling in the gaps in the historic timeline with completely believable events which only add to the rich tapestry of the story. Civil war enthusiasts as well as those who enjoy good family drama stories will find this book hard to believe. FIVE STARS.
LiterateHousewife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Walt Whitman has a calling, not only as a poet but as someone to do what he can to ease the pain of the injured and dying soldiers from the American Civil War. Although a native of New York, Whitman does not let a soldier¿s military affiliation prevent him from being of comfort to one who needs it. It is in this capacity that he meets and learns the story of Private William Prentiss. William Prentiss was the youngest son of a proud Marylander from Baltimore. He held the distinction of being the only brother who fought for the South. Clifton, his brother closest in age, fought for the North. After William¿s passing, Whitman has the opportunity to meet with the surviving Prentiss brothers and together they uncover the story of the Civil War, which tore the Prentiss family apart.Two Brothers: One North, One South is much more focused on the battles and political shifts than other Civil War novels I¿ve read in the past. The remembrances of the battlefields and the political discussions and arguments, which were undoubtedly the result of thorough research, felt authentic and even authoritative. I felt as though I was an insider at each of the Cary sister¿s parties or meetings. I also felt as if I was witnessing the long marches and grueling battles. This provided the authenticity required to make the story work. Because of the level of detail, this novel would easily satisfy those well versed in Civil War history. I attended a seminar that was taught by a man who makes such reenactments his primary hobby. While reading this book, I often thought about how perfect this novel would be for those who participate in Civil War reenactments. I can just imagine them reading this book around the campfire and commiserating with the characters¿ less than luxurious conditions while in the midst of a reenactment. I think they would especially get a kick out of scenes such as the one where William and a Union soldier are conversing with each other on the sly while they were each hunkered down behind their barricades.I listened to this book on audio. As much as I enjoyed learning about the Prentiss brothers and the Carey sisters, it was in spite of the narrator, Kirsten Beyer. The way she read the dialog particularly didn¿t work for me. Some of the characters¿ dialog, especially at the beginning while they were discussing the politics of the war, felt more like formal letter writing than natural speech between family, acquantences, or friends. While this is not the fault of Ms. Beyer, her reading of this dialog made them feel even more than an arm¿s distance away from me and from each other. Her change of voice for the male characters especially didn¿t work very well for me. Her pacing and style did work better for me during the straight narration. Still, given that most of the characters were male and this story very much took place on the battlefields, I think that a male voice would have made a more natural fit for me.While reading Two Brothers: One North, One South, I learned a great deal about how the American Civil War affected Maryland and its people. I also learned about the role that women like the ¿Cary Invicibles¿ played in Confederate history. Beforehand, I had never heard of sisters Hetty and Jennie Cary or their cousin Constance. I thought it was fascinating how they made the first Confederate battle flags and managed to deliver them to the troops. I was disappointed that there was not more about what happened to the ¿Cary Invicibles¿ after the war, but given the structure of this novel, there was no way to tell that story. David H. Jones brings to light the pain experienced by families torn apart by the politics surrounding this war without making the story feel cliched. Having Walt Whitman there to tell William¿s story after his passing worked very well for me. While this isn¿t my favorite Civil War novel, I left it feeling enriched in my country¿s history.
jo-jo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was such an interesting novel that was packed full of historical information about the Civil War. It brought us from the high society in Baltimore, Maryland, to battlefields in Virginia, and finally an Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.. Walt Whitman is introduced very early in the book as he spends time with a young wounded soldier named William Prentiss. During their time together, Whitman learns of many significant events that have happened to William over the course of the last four years.Shortly after William passes away in the hospital (since this happens very early on in the book I don't think I'm giving much away) Whitman is asked to meet with William's brothers and share the conversations that they had during his last days. As Whitman recounts his conversations, and William's brother Clifton shares his experiences, we are given a vivid picture of how the Civil War could affect a family that harbored different political views.This book was quite the history lesson for me! During this time period, Maryland obviously joined the United States of America, but the Confederate States of America was still a force to be reckoned with. From what I understood in the novel, Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States as Jefferson Davis was also the president of the Confederate States. For some reason I really had a problem grasping this concept.John Prentiss is the father of William and Clifton, and is in support of the Union actions. Although he sees the differences in his sons, as William supports the Confederacy, and Clifton supports the Union, he longs for his sons to set their politics aside to remember that they are brothers. As the brothers are preparing to depart for battle they bump into each other on the street one day. The following excerpt explains their brief reunion from page 69:The brothers stood staring at one another, the stark difference in their uniforms declaring that they had chosen opposite sides in the looming conflict. Their facial expressions were a mixture of shock and dismay. After a moment, Clifton pushed by William and resumed his fast pace. (end of excerpt)It was very interesting to learn about the import roles that women had played during the Civil War. Hetty and Jenny Cary were good friends to the Prentiss family and unwavering in their support and loyalty to the Confederacy. Although these ladies were the cream of Baltimore society, it was not uncommon for them to put themselves in harms way by delivering weapons, supplies, or personal letters to the fields of battle.I am finding that the more I recall about this novel the more I appreciate the writing and research that went into it. I was so surprised by the different battles that were described with such detail. I think my only disadvantage with this novel was that because I have not been familiar with the Civil War previously, a lot of these details went right over my head. I found myself having to read sections over again to be able to comprehend what was being told. Obviously political differences was one of the major themes of this novel, but I found it interesting that even during the Civil War, people found ways to get ahead just by knowing someone. Unfortunately, that is still going on today, but I want to share one last excerpt that describes Clifton's frustrations regarding General Ben Butler, who apparently was known as a political General. The following excerpt is taken from page 232:"More importantly, I have nothing but disdain for anyone who acquires or maintains his position through political power. Butler was the first major general of volunteers appointed by a grateful President Lincoln in May of 1861. That mistake had terrible consquences in terms of unnecessary casualties and opportunities lost. As a field officer, I deplore the high cost paid by the common soldier for the failures of political generals. Thank God I never had to serve directly under one." (end of excerpt)I did enjoy this novel, but it did take
RobynHode on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. The premise sounds interesting but it ends up being a confusing work unable to decide if it is a history book or historical fiction. Two Brothers follows the Prentiss family as they reminisce about their deceased brother who was a Confederate soldier yet the rest of the family was staunchly Union. The story bounces between following the Prentiss brothers and the Cary girls through their various endeavors during the war. The reader has trouble being drawn into the story because it is broken up with flash-backs and seemingly random pieces of history thrown in. It appears the author is attempting to write a history of Civil War action as seen by soldiers from Maryland. If the book remained as strictly historical, it would have been an interesting read, albeit a little dry. As it is, the story is confusing. I do enjoy the historical information in the book and it is apparent that author has done his research. I just wish this book flowed a little better.
BruceTrinque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The dramatic device of "brother against brother" has long been a cliché of novels and movies about the American Civil War. Thus, it was with some trepidation that I approached David H. Jones's "Two Brothers: One North, One South." Yes, this novel indeed centers about one Confederate and one Union brother, but it is also a novel firmly based upon fact and not merely melodramatic invention. The two brothers of the title were actual 19th century American brothers: William Prentiss of the 2nd Maryland Infantry (CSA) and Clifton Prentiss of the 6th Maryland Infantry (USA), and Jones's novel is closely drawn from the two men's genuine histories, from the months preceding the outbreak of war to the days following its end. Both men saw hard service in the Eastern Theater of the war, allowing the author to construct a fairly comprehensive survey of military events, the scope of the story being broadened when appropriate by reference to the two brothers' friends and acquaintances. A factor which is simultaneously a hurdle and a strength of the novel is that the characters speak like characters in a 19th century novel: formal, ornate, sometimes flowery language quite unlike that of our current day. This sustains an atmosphere that clearly places the story in a different era, giving the novel an unusual feeling of authenticity, but also might be an obstacle to those readers unable or unwilling to cope with the emotional distance created by that language. The story is told in an episodic manner spread out over four years of tumultuous events; each segment, however, is clearly identified with regard to time and place, helping the reader maintain orientation. In the first half of the book, the story is clearly weighted towards the Confederate side of history, but the balance swings more towards a Union perspective as the war goes on. What could have been a magnolia blossom and mint juleps Southern-romanticized picture of the American Civil War instead ends up a more evenhanded portrait, examining how the perception of issues altered over time and how Secessionist dreams turned dry and barren by the end of the war. One unexpected element of the novel is the use of Walt Whitman as a major character and narrator when his duties at an Army hospital bring him into close contact with both brothers (it is historical fact that both were severely wounded in one of the last engagements of the war).
kwells on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well-researched novel about the Prentiss family of Maryland and the true story of two brothers on opposite sides of the Civil War. Descriptions of some events, such as the Baltimore riot and the Battle of Gettysburg, were good. The dialogue was not at all natural-sounding or conversational.
Fourpawz2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two Brothers is supposed to be the story of two real life Maryland brothers who fought in the American Civil War ¿ Clifton for the North and William for the South. At war¿s end, both of them end up seriously wounded in the same hospital. Walt Whitman, the poet, befriends William, the youngest brother, before he dies and then sticks around to engage in a twenty-four hour gab fest with Clifton and the family¿s other two surviving sons who arrive too late to see William before he dies. The four of them then recount every battle of the past four years (eastern theater only) ¿ from secession to Appomattox interspersed with their take on the effect of the war upon their divided family. It was an effort to finish this book. I¿ve spent some time searching for something good to say about it, but I can¿t think of one thing. There seemed no point to having Walt Whitman in this book except for the historical fact that he did indeed spend years in military hospitals during the war, visiting the soldiers and bringing them little presents. I believe that Mr. Jones wanted him there in order to tell William¿s side of the war and the experiences of the Cary girls who were famous Confederate beauties of the day. I couldn¿t tell what purpose these women served ¿ perhaps the writer meant to insert a female perspective on the war. They did not add much to the story. The author has made Whitman privy to a great deal that goes on in their lives and somehow I can¿t quite figure out how the poet is supposed to have that knowledge; William¿s friendship with the Cary family really doesn¿t seem quite enough to explain it. At times, this book reads like the dullest of regimental histories with several very familiar anecdotes from the war. The war as recounted by Jones, was also curiously bloodless. The Civil War was an exceptionally gory one, but that never came through in this book. For some reason the author chose to use what has been described in other places as the ¿formal, ornate, sometimes flowery language¿ of the nineteenth century in his dialogue. I¿ve read enough writing from this era to know that Mr. Jones has reproduced this type of expression perfectly, but he shouldn¿t have done it. His dialogue is genuine - and excruciatingly dull and stilted. All of the rest of it is written just plain badly. His phrasing is awkward ¿ even laughable at times - and he is in need of a proofreader. Mr. Jones most likely is the ¿life-long student of the Civil War¿ that the book jacket claims he is. However, he is not a writer of any kind and this book should not have been written. Too many trees died in the publishing of it and, in my opinion, there is no value to the writing or the story.I want my six days back.
fallaspen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not particularly well-versed in the history of the Civil War, but have long had a curiosity of how individuals caught up in that conflict found ways to survive, both physically and emotionally. As such, the premise of Two Brothers: One North, One South appealed to me and I opened this book with much anticipation. The story begins at the end of the War, with the famous writer and poet Walt Whitman serving as the conduit between the family members who remained loyal to the Union and the brother who followed his heart to fight for the Confederacy. William Prentiss, the Rebel brother, had just died in a Washington, D.C., Hospital, while his brother Clifton lay in another ward of the same hospital in serious condition. Whitman, who had befriended William, had spent many hours at William¿s side, and upon discovering William¿s brother Clifton and two older brothers who are there to visit Clifton, he begins to reveal to them just what their youngest brother had experienced since leaving home to serve in the Rebel Army.The story proceeds from this point in a series of flashbacks, some as memories of the surviving brothers, others related by Whitman as told him by William. Chief among the other characters are two sisters, Hetty and Jenny Cary, and their cousin, Constance, who secretly aided the Confederate cause as spies from their home in Baltimore.This book is full of rich characters and there is no shortage of information provided the reader who is eager for a new angle on a much studied topic. At times, especially in the early chapters, I found the story to be bogged down with too many names of generals, captains, corporals, lieutenants, and other people incidental to the story. Likewise, the story was, for me, a bit long on battles and logistics and short on details of the landscape and insights into the human factor. However, the final few chapters pick up the pace and it seems the author shifts his focus a bit away from his original litany of names and engages more in the characters, much to the book¿s benefit.Of course, being a fictionalized account of a true story, much supposition is necessary to weave the tale, and the reader can only appreciate the author¿s apparent reticence to make too many assumptions of what his characters were really like. There was also the feeling, in one or two extensions of the stories, of a dead end being reached by the author, with the characters or storylines around them dissipating into thin air. Again, as the author¿s careful research is apparent in other areas, one can only presume the trail of information disappeared and the side story sadly followed. At the end, the author offers an appendix with excerpts from actual letters and newspaper clippings, which was a nice way to wrap up some of the loose ends. This book is a worthwhile read, but might leave the more casually interested reader feeling it was intended for a more fanatical Civil War historian.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an important book because it makes real for us the actual conflict of beliefs that enabled what we now call the US Civil War. It's an engaging work of historical fiction and unique in its reliance on less well known, but actual characters and events. David Jones relies on the brother vs. brother theme so often associated with the Civil War, but his portrayal of a few specific family tragedies is superior to the typical fictional examples. He uses authentic context rather than hyperbole to build the emotion. Shaara conveyed the political principles held by the military figures we know so well. Jones explores the same beliefs in more detail, through the civilian perspective of Maryland's prominent families. He highlights the importance of women, youth, and servants, and relates how their convictions emerged to influence the war. Jones provides a good story, a fine history lesson about the Civil War, and a balanced presentation of the views on states' right and slavery during that time.
parelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wish there was more to this story: the personal history gets lost in the long general scheme of events. I actually found the history of the Prentiss family very interesting - particularly Sarah and Laura, and would have loved to have seen more interaction between all of them (letters are mentioned in passing but are never quoted, not even in the appendix.) I suspect like many of the gentlemen in the book, the author also harbors an affection for Miss Hetty Cary - while I'm certainly going to see if there's more about her, she was all but peripheral to the main plot here and her detailed story had no explanation within the framework. Maybe a separate book on the ladies would have done as well. And, I must admit, I would have liked to know what happened to all of the other people and characters mentioned here after the war. Certainly the framed sections felt more forced than not - oh, let's go back and cover what the girls were doing right then before this story gets ahead of itself- and the characterizations there were extremely shallow. Clifford in particular - while I liked him, it's hard to see how a man could go from refusing to see his brother because he fired on the US flag to being understanding and admiring his Southern convictions. Milton came across as the mockery of a uptight minister - even if he was one or not, it wasn't very convincing. I had no feel for John whatsoever - while Whitman is simply the all knowing narrator - and goodness knows how. (edit: I admit wondering about the Amazon reviews for this book which are all so positive and state that Whitman is the main character. Did we read the same book?) I'm not one to criticize a book for its writing usually, but I admit that for Civil War fiction, this had pretty stiff competition - and this didn't make the cut. The dialog was stilted and artificial, while it was difficult to follow who was the narrator at present - or occasionally even what side we were viewing at the time! That said, while I was expecting fiction rather than non-fiction, the more historical sections showed a lot of research - and thankfully avoiding a good number of the usual stories told about various events and people (well, I can think of one). I'd like to know more about the sources used - or a map and a list of battles. This would have made for a great non-fiction book, but alas, it proved not to be a good work of fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago