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Civil War Journals - Author Portrait Photo Credit: © 2007 by R. L. Geyer

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Book Report: Two local authors base their books on family history
by Alli Marshall on 05/15/2008

Troubled State
A family history-based book that does draw from actual fact is Black Mountain-based author Gari Carter's Troubled State: Civil War Journals of Franklin Archibald Dick (Truman State University Press, 2008). The text is culled from the journals of Carter's great-great-grandfather, a prominent St. Louis attorney and Assistant Adjutant General to Captain Nathaniel Lyon.

Dick, it turns out, was loyal to the Union in the midst of politically-tirn St. Louis, and his journals demonstrate his own misgivings about the war and concerns as to his own future. It's an intriguing premise for a book, but worth noting that readers without more than a passing interest in battles and Civil War history will find Troubled to be a dense and fairly dry read. The 205 pages of journal entries are packed with footnotes -- often four to a page -- and are followed by detailed biographies and a genealogy of the Dick Family.

But there are rare gems tucked into the pages: Images of Dick's letters to military personnel, a letter from President Abraham Lincoln himself, and Dick's of-the-moment perspective on momentous events. "Mr. Lincoln, the President, was assassinated last evng. in Washington ..." he writes. "Here and now is the life of the Nation struck at by this vile rebellion. Mr. Lincoln throughout has failed to appreciate the wickedness of these people -- pardons & pardons have fallen from him into the hands of guilty doers -- who have turned again from their pardoned crimes, to again slay & destroy the defenders of Nation."

Such weighty insights are an important contribution to the unfolding of American history, and Troubled, though scholarly and challenging, provides a keen look back in time.

Gari Carter reads from Troubled State at Malaprop's on Wednesday, May 21. The event begins at 7 p.m.

-- Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

 

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