by Hervey Allen ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 4, 1938
One lives in a constant state of doubt over the ability of an author of a best seller to strike twice, and of uncertainty as to whether one wants him to repeat his own pattern of success, or try a new path. Now Action At Aquila has proved the soundness of his claim as a first rate story teller; and he has further proved that he does not need the props of a clok and sword romance to uphold that claim. To be sure, this first novel of his since Anthony Adverse is in soberer mood, it is less unashamedly romantic and glamorous, it appeals to a totally different sort of reader than the one seeking escape into hero roles, with a touch of Dumas. Instead, he has set himself a task -- and achieved it; he has taken a minor episode of the Civil War, he has determined to make the people and what they were thinking and feeling his object, rather than the strategy of generals,he has given to that seemingly remote period a sense of immediacy which is in itself another gesture toward understanding the cruelty and futility of war. And he has done it with the pen of a storyteller, who gets under the surface with his characters, particularly his minor characters, and makes them live. The Valley of Virginia is his setting -- the time towards the close of the struggle. And in presenting a somewhat stereotyped situation of an officer in the northern army winning the fealty of a woman of the south whom he had injured, he has managed to make it a new story, he has told it with enough of the rhythm of its period to make it authentic, without sacrificing present day reality to artificial echoes of the past. A comparison of the final draft with parts of the serialization in Cosmopolitan indicate that the condensation into serial form has somehow robbed the story of its flavor, its vitality -- and that it is virtually a new book even to those who skimmed it in serial form. A book for a sure sale -- and wide rentals; a book that is worth putting on permanent shelves of Civil War literature.
Pub Date: March 4, 1938
Page Count: -
Publisher: Farrar & Rinehart
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1938
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