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The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War
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The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  350 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
In this epic novel of violence and redemption by the author of The Black Flower, a Civil War veteran travels back over old battlefields toward a reckoning with the past

It's been twenty years since Cass Wakefield returned from the Civil War to his hometown in Mississippi, but he is still haunted by battlefield memories. Now, one afternoon in 1885, he is presented with a cha
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Henry Holt and Co.
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The Killer Angels by Michael ShaaraGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellCold Mountain by Charles FrazierBane of the Innocent by Oliver PhippsThe Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
Best Civil War Fiction
14th out of 52 books — 21 voters
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53rd out of 167 books — 45 voters

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Community Reviews

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Diane Barnes
Sep 18, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing
This is the third book in Howard Bahr's trilogy on the Civil War. If you read The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War, The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War, and this one, you will learn everything you need to know about the men who fought this war, the women and families they left behind, and the world that was left when they came home. The writing is superb: battles are described with such delicacy that they become almost like a grotesque ballet. Death, which is inevitable, is an exp ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing
Majestic and Poetic - an Outstanding Experience

If you pick up The Judas Field give it about 30 pages. Up to that point I was fairly confused and lost. Then, it suddenly comes together and this book became one of the most powerful books I've read all year.

The book features two storylines - one set approximately 20 years after the Civil War and one consists of flashbacks about the Battle of Franklin. Both are interesting. Bahr's descriptions of the battle contain some of the most poetic descript
Jul 08, 2015 Steve added it
Shelves: bookreporter
It was Robert E. Lee who once said, "What a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world, to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world." With THE JUDAS FIELD, Howard Bahr gives us a stirring and emotional account of just such a time, as seen through the eyes of young Mississippian Cass Wakefield.

THE JUDAS FIELD opens with the birt
Apr 19, 2016 Bobby rated it it was amazing
I loved The Black Flower and therefore looked forward to this novel also by Howard Bahr and was certainly not disappointed!! Cass, Lucian and the rest of the characters that are perfectly developed here brought the years during and after The Civil War to light in a way that I was not only marching with the Rebels, I was seeing the horrors of that War through my own eyes. Mr. Bahr is a literary reenactor and I was mystified as well as honored to be traveling through Tennessee with his soldiers.
Jan 06, 2013 Bank rated it liked it
In followup to Bahr's excellent book The Black Flower, the soldiers from a small Mississippi town revisit the battlefield of Franklin to bring home the remains of their friends. The book chronicles the intervening 20 years from the close of the war to to this trip, the devastation visited upon the South during Reconstruction, , and the permanent damage to the soldiers (PTSD). A heart rending story.
Feb 27, 2014 Gloria rated it really liked it
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book, but found it to be a very evocative read. Bahr is very graphic with his description of the American Civil War battles so that in your mind's eye you can see the men rushing forward and the body parts flying. Don't let that put you off. This story is more about the aftermath that the survivors have to deal with. We meet Cass Wakefield twenty years after the Battle of Franklin and see that for him, and his two army friends, the experie ...more
Jul 17, 2008 maria rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
The story of the battle of Franklin (TN) though the eyes of 2 men and a boy.
favorite quote;
"In the last week of April, Leaf River stepped out of it's banks and walked over the land just to prove that it could." p.285.
Started to read but I needed lighter fare while on vacation. As it's about the Civil War, I released it in a spot which still bears the name of civil war activities, Battery Park Ave, in Asheville.
Jan 31, 2008 Cathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who think Post Traumatic Stress was invented in Iraq or VietNam. Very graphic, but terrific nonetheless. Read it in two sittings.
Oct 30, 2011 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Loved this story. It took me into the characters mind and memories. There will be a lot to talk about at our book club this month.
Oct 10, 2012 Brent rated it really liked it
Another triumph by Howard Bahr. Perhaps not as good as his first two novels, but still beautifully written and powerful.
Dave Larson
Oct 13, 2011 Dave Larson rated it it was amazing
Great story, descriptions of the Battle of Franklin and its effects on soldiers and thoughts are awesome.
Jun 13, 2011 Dale rated it really liked it
A powerful meditation on the scars that war leaves on the human heart and psyche.
May 15, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
Wish I could give this book more stars, it was a really good read!
Apr 16, 2012 Sharon rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, but what a tragic waste of life.
Oct 25, 2009 Karen added it
Surprisingly captivating and evocative of the time period.
Jul 23, 2011 Kathie rated it really liked it
Shelves: quilt-book-club, 2011
Beautiful writing.
Aug 02, 2013 Sheila rated it it was amazing
****WARNING! No spoilers per se, but a few quotes that may include too much information for some***

How can you not LOVE a book that has been written by a man who uses the english language as a concert violinist would use a Stradivarius. Bahr's dialog and descriptions had me constantly going back to reread lines and paragraphs - often out loud.

From the very first paragraph:

"Cass Wakefield was born in a double-pen log cabin just at break of day, and before he was twenty minutes old, he was almost
Cathy Cole
Oct 11, 2011 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Line: Cass Wakefield was born in a double-pen log cabin just at the break of day, and before he was twenty minutes old, he was almost thrown out with the bedclothes.

Since that rather inauspicious beginning, Cass Wakefield piloted steamboats, married, was a soldier, and became a widower. For the last twenty years, he's lived in Cumberland, Mississippi, and been a traveling salesman selling Colt revolvers.

Alison Sansing lost her father and brother in the war, and for the last twenty years, s
Nov 22, 2014 Ellen rated it it was amazing
A very powerful and well written book! The books "The Red Badge of Courage", "All Quiet On the Western Front", and "Johnny Got His Gun" kept coming to mind as I read this. All these books, including "The Judas Field", showed the ugly truth of war and not the glorification of war. PTSD wasn't even mentioned in this novel, but with so many wars in our recent history it wasn't hard to identify and realize that all wars produce this and forever damage the men we send to war.
Mark P.
Oct 03, 2007 Mark P. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: friends
I am a fan of American Civil War fiction and Howard Bahr is one of the best. His other two novels are very good. I enjoyed sharing them with my Dad before he passed away. I highly recommend those books to anyone.
This book takes place in 1885 and describes a journey of Confederate veterans (some who are still dealing with Post-traumatic stress) going back to the battlefield in Franklin, TN to recover the bodies of two of their officers buried immediately after the battle. Bahr's descriptions of t
Apr 23, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it
Eloquent and moving portrayal of survivors(and the dead) of the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War. Howard Bahr invests his characters with large portions of humor, pathos, suffering and soul-searching.His ear for period Southern dialect is spot on. The visceral descriptions of the actual chaos of battle are as disturbing as they should be, given the carnage these soldiers endured for the sake of honor , duty and loyalty to one another.This is a slim novel but it packs a wallop. If you are ...more
Apr 18, 2016 Peggy rated it it was amazing
For any Civil War buff, this novel imagines the psychological and physical fallout of Civil War survivors. Haunting, surreal, and almost "sixth sens-ish" in its telling. The battle scenes are horribly realized, and not for the squeamish. One can only sit in a daze imagining the horrors witnessed and endured by so many soldiers in the War. This book sticks with you for awhile.
Mar 17, 2016 Fran rated it it was amazing
This was a novel of the Civil War told from the perspective of those that lived and years after the fact. The emphasis is on the dead and how the living are really a part of the dead. The War destroyed more than the land and lives; it destroyed the soul.
May 02, 2016 Kary rated it it was ok
I bought this book while living in Alabama only read it 3/4 of the way through hard for me to get through. Seems everyone else who has rated it really seemed to have liked it. Maybe I'm just not w civil war fan.
Allen Jeffreys
Interesting, very discriptive novel of actions in which the main character, Cass, was involved. Particularly the Battle of Decatur, Alabama, and the Battle of Franklin was of interest.
Jacob Jury
Jan 16, 2013 Jacob Jury rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, from the detailed and complex characters to the horrifically graphic descriptions of battles. The story was very entertaining and had a solid plot-line which I enjoyed very much. The only reason I would give this story 4 stars is because of how it is organized. It starts off rather slow and takes a while to get into. It can also be hard to tell when or where the story is taking place at a given time due to the numerous flashbacks. Other than that I would definitely reco ...more
Vickie Brannon
Feb 28, 2016 Vickie Brannon rated it it was amazing
Hauntingly beautiful - once I started it, I couldn't put it down.
Sep 18, 2014 Megowen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: See above
Recommended to Megowen by: CAO
This is the fifth or so book I have read that feature the Southern view of the Civil War and the second, at least, that revolved around the events of the battle that occurred in Franklin,
Tennessee. Bahr's presentation is melodic, reminiscent of the days of oral story telling. His descriptive talents place the reader in the middle of events. I recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction of the Civil War, or who enjoys great story telling.
Colleen Mertens
Sep 09, 2013 Colleen Mertens rated it it was amazing
This was a well written book about the Civil War. The characters are interesting and stay in the your head long after finishing the book. I read this in one day because it got my attention. It does not mince words about the horrors of the war. The effects of the war on the minds of the men who fought was also portrayed well. This was a great historical fiction novel, especially if you have any interest at all in the Civil War era.
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Did the Civil War accomplish anything but death? 2 5 Aug 19, 2013 02:21PM  
A Trilogy?? 5 8 Jul 11, 2012 08:29PM  
  • Mr. Lincoln's Wars: A Novel in Thirteen Stories
  • Confederates
  • The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War
  • The Disagreement
  • Faded Coat of Blue (Abel Jones, #1)
  • Landsman: A Novel
  • Cain at Gettysburg
  • Walking to Gatlinburg
  • Woe to Live On
  • Jacob's Ladder: A Story of Virginia During the War
  • Brookland
  • Gideon's Call
  • Canaan's Tongue
  • Chicano
  • The Diezmo: A Novel
  • The Americans 1 (Kent Family Chronicles, #8)
  • Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander
  • A Heart Divided
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Howard Bahr (1946- ) is an American novelist, born in Meridian, Mississippi. Bahr, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then worked for several years on the railroads, enrolled at the University of Mississippi in the early 1970s when he was in his late 20s. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Ole Miss and served as th
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“In spite of all he had seen, Cass still believed in the fundamental decency of cats and men. He knew that God believed in it, too, in spite of all He’d seen – iin spite of all His grieving and all the lies told about Him down the bloody ages. He was God after all, and had made all creatures, and He had taken the noble chance of granting to one of them a will of its own, and in the end, the gift had been worth all the trouble. Maybe the right to choose was the best gift of all and the best proof of love. It was more precious even than life itself, for without the possibility of defeat, the victories would have no meaning.” 2 likes
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