THE BLACK FLOWER by Howard Bahr

THE BLACK FLOWER

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Bahr makes an impressive debut with a haunting tale of a brief but bloody encounter on the road to Nashville, which helped put paid to the Confederate cause in the latter stages of America's Civil War. Although a university graduate, Bushrod Carter is a private soldier in the 21st Mississippi, a storied regiment in the battered Southern army commanded by General John Bell Hood. Scattered by Sherman's march to the sea, Bushrod and his fellow veterans (wearied by three years of unremitting combat) find themselves facing fresh Union forces outside Franklin, Tenn., in late November of 1864. Ordered to attack, they advance across an open field to meet their entrenched foe on a fine autumn afternoon. After a fierce battle (seen only through the eyes of women and children in the farmstead Rebel officers have requisitioned as a hospital), the real horrors begin. Bandsmen bearing wounded from the battlefield by the light of guttering torches find Bushrod (who's sustained a concussion and lost a finger) almost by chance beneath a pile of corpses, but his two best friends did not survive the engagement. Meantime, under cover of darkness, scavengers roam the killing ground stripping the dead of their valuables, and a former teacher crazed by the carnage prays that God will forgive the South. Apparently little the worse for wear, Bushrod eventually manages to locate and bury his dead mates. Assisting him in this sad business is Anna Hereford, a relative visiting the family that owns the farm. While nearly dehumanized by what he's been through, the young--and doomed--rifleman feels attracted to Anna, who warily returns his interest. He soon follows his fallen comrades, however, leaving Anna to grieve for what might have been. A bleakly effective and economical account of men and women caught up in a bestial conflict. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-877853-50-X
Page count: 230pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997




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