Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Pittsburg Landing - A Novel

By Robert Burns Clark

In Robert Burns Clark’s debut novel, “Pittsburg Landing” two reluctant veterans of the Mexican War find themselves fighting on opposite sides during the Battle of Shiloh.

On the night of April 18, 1847, Amos Bingham, single handedly killed 34 men on a Mexican mountain top known as El Telegrafo.  After the war he came home to farm in Stafford, Alabama, married and started a family.  Amos kept locked away the memories of the awful and bloody night, and promised himself never to draw blood in anger again.  But with the outbreak of the American Civil War, and the recruitment and mobilization of the Confederate Army it is a promise that grows increasingly difficult to keep.

Amos’ son Noah is resentful of his father’s pacifist tendencies and thinks his father is a coward.  Determined to save the honor of the family name and despite being under age, Noah convinces his friend Buddy Sykes to run away with him and join the growing Confederate Army gathering at Corinth Mississippi.

Discovering his son missing, Amos chases after the boys, vowing to save his son, no matter who or what gets in his way.

William Moore, bore witness the gruesome scene at El Telegrafo, and in the spring of 1862 he too is caught up in the conflict that has torn America in two.  While raising and training Federal troops at Evansburg, Indiana, he falls in love with Sarah Delaney the daughter of an old acquaintance.  Soon they are married, and William’s troops are ordered to join Grant’s growing Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Sarah a nurse, organizes a medical team and follows her husband into the theater of war.

When Confederate Army of Mississippi moves north and attacks Grant’s army at Pittsburg Landing, Amos, Noah, Buddy, William and Sarah find themselves at the vortex of what would afterward be known as the Battle of Shiloh.

Robert Burns Clarke is a former writer and producer of the CBS television series, “The Dukes of Hazzard” which aired between1979 and1985.  “Pittsburg Landing” is his first novel.  It is a good attempt.  It is neither a great nor a bad novel, but falls somewhere in between.  Burns relies too heavily on the melodramatic, and too little on historical detail.  The battle of Shiloh is not the focal point of the Clark’s novel, though it gives the novel its dramatic context, and propels Clark’s characters through the plot.  It is a quick and satisfying read, but does not leave the reader wanting more.

ISBN 978-0985537500, Definitive Words Cyber Publishing, ©2012, Paperback, 294 pages. $19.95

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