Title: The Other Side of the River: A Novel of the American Civil War
Author: Robert D. Halpert, M.D.
Published by: WestBow Press, a Division of Thomas Nelson, 2012
In his Forward, the author writes,
This story of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson is historical fiction. It is
historical because, in the main I have endeavored to strictly adhere to the
historical facts, it is fiction in that, where history is silent or ambiguous,
I have filled in the voids with what I believe to be plausible possibilities
not discordant with what is known of the man, his life and his beliefs [author's
I remember having heard and read a little about Stonewall Jackson, in the early years of my schooling, and I don't recall that any particular mention was made regarding his Christian faith. Because I am a Christian, I found that part of interest, especially as I had no idea that he had played a large role in bringing a sweeping revival across what came to be known as the "Bible belt" of the U.S. I appreciated reading about his struggle with his personal "demons" in prayer--assuming an accurate representation.
Having never engaged in any special study of General Jackson, I cannot attest to the accuracy of his portrayal by this author. Usually, I do enjoy learning about history and minored in it in college. However, I found this novel to be painfully dry and struggled to read it all. I repeatedly forgot that I was reading a novel; it had none of that feel to it.
In addition to the slow-moving and very dry nature of more than 80% of the book, the many errors became annoying, eventually revealing a total reliance on SpellCheck; that reliance retains all of the words that are correctly spelled, but are not the intended word. Such errors do slip through for everyone, on occasion, but--so many!!
At around 83% into the book (this is the Kindle version, remember), my interest increased considerably. At that point in the story, General Jackson was thought to be recuperating from surgery resulting from serious injuries suffered in battle. A young officer was visiting with him, and they began talking about leaders and leadership. Halpert's Jackson was inwardly compelled to expound on those qualities that he had discovered to be necessary for good leaders. I found myself highlighting the whole of that portion, as I believe his descriptions of real leaders are absolutely on target, even though they did not accurately characterize Jackson's own style.
Still, I applaud the author's development of the concept and for articulating it so well and so thoroughly. That portion made me glad I had struggled through all the rest of the book, to get there. Sadly, I still cannot give the whole book more than three stars. I wish I could, as three stars provide no recommendation either for or against buying a book.Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of
their BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.