A righteous man traverses Civil War era America and fights for the causes in which he believes.
Zeke Thompson: orphan, white, cripple, federal agent, unrepentant abolitionist and chef extraordinaire; a befitting description for a man who led an extraordinary life in tumultuous 19th-century America. Zeke was beaten by his father, who died when Zeke was a child, and then left all alone when Zeke’s mother died from a botched abortion. Jason, a kindly and knowledgeable slave from a local plantation, takes the orphaned boy under his wing and teaches him how to hunt and fish, but more importantly teaches him that all men are the same and all equally deserving of the liberties promised in America. When Jason is killed for a crime he didn’t commit, Zeke is spurred to a lifetime of protecting slaves and helping the less fortunate. After being sent to New York to escape violent Southerners as well as to further his education, Zeke joins the Union Army, becomes a decorated war hero and embarks upon a career of rescuing illegal slaves. Whether falling in love, meeting the president or being kidnapped, Zeke never forgets his mission to help the disenfranchised. While most of the story is well paced, Zeke’s nonstop adventures sometimes proceed too quickly; he goes from wartime chef to paraplegic to national hero in a matter of pages. This speed robs Zeke of some of his depth, as readers are denied an opportunity to glimpse his evolving character. As befitting a man of action, some of Zeke’s dialogue, particularly soapbox speeches on slavery and equality in America, are hackneyed and would not hold sway with the powerful politicians to whom he is preaching. But through all of his travels, Zeke’s conviction stands out, and in this entertaining novel that reads as a Forrest Gump-type journey through mid-19th century America, he is a fine prism through which to view a complicated time in our nation’s history.
Fun and educational—a unique look at post-Civil War America.