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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

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  281 ratings  ·  42 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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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 descripti
For those who think Post Traumatic Stress was invented in Iraq or VietNam. Very graphic, but terrific nonetheless. Read it in two sittings.
A powerful meditation on the scars that war leaves on the human heart and psyche.
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.
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
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.
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.
Another triumph by Howard Bahr. Perhaps not as good as his first two novels, but still beautifully written and powerful.
Dave Larson
Great story, descriptions of the Battle of Franklin and its effects on soldiers and thoughts are awesome.
Wish I could give this book more stars, it was a really good read!
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.
Beautiful writing.
****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
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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
Jacob Jury
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
Sep 18, 2014 Megowen rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
The slow parts were slow but the great parts were great. I loved the description of battle that this book provided. They were gruesome and included details to invoke the senses; horrific smells, sounds and sights. Some war books seem to idealize battles and paint them in an almost romantic light. This novel, however, paints a picture that chills the blood and makes you ask yourself "Why??"
Charles Cummings
The last of the ACW series by Howard Bahr, this book starts 20 years after the Battle of Franklin, in 1885. The language is nice, but sometimes hard to follow the story. The book is for a specific audience, mainly those that are interested in the western campaigns of the ACW. I appreciated the series and feel I have a better understanding and appreciation for the horrors of war.
Could not stop reading.
Everyone knows Howard Bahr uses beautiful words and phrases in the best way.
I'm sorry I have read all his books now - not another to go grab!
His descriptions of the battlefields and soldiers' thoughts while in the midst are overwhelming.
The story - over time - is wonderful.

Oh, I wish i had another to read.
The principal character relives the horrors of war and the atrocitties comitted by both the union and confederate troops. The accounts as written in this historical novel dovetail with other details I have read regarding the battle at Frankfort, Tennesse. 150 years later,we still wonder why this nation indured this terrible tragedy and division.
Jun 19, 2011 Nancy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: civil war types
Recommended to Nancy by: on library shelf
This was a good book...I gave it three stars because I am not really interested in the subject matter. However, the writing was very good with the depictions of war, harrowing and disturbing. I never really cared about any of the characters, and it was a relief to finally finish this book. Note to self, no more civil war novels!
Great read, very descriptive of what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War and all the effects it has on everyone around. This novel touches the horrific realism and also the spiritual side of the 4 people off to find the bodies of two men who died with them on the battlefield. I am not a civil war buff but this is a great story.
This may be the slowest and darkest novels that I have yet read. The ominous and morose mood of the writing actually sets a rather appropriate dark tone for the story. I am thoroughly depressed by the gray-ness...yes, that thought was out loud. I can't full describe the mood of this book.
Elizabeth Pinkley
Very graphic descriptions of the Battle at Franklin. This is the third book I've read about the battle and it gets to be a little much. Interesting insights into the minds of the men in battle and the effects the fighting and scenes around them had on their minds.
This was a pretty good read, had some very good passages in it, but it's nothing I will be tempted to reread. By way of comparison, Cold Mountain and Killer Angels, other Civil War novels that I have read, stick in my mind as much more interesting books.
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  • Shadows of Glory (Abel Jones, #2)
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  • Sherman's March
  • Cain at Gettysburg
  • Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America
  • Last Flag Down: The Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship
  • Woe to Live On
  • Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction
  • Jacob's Ladder: A Story of Virginia During the War
  • Mary Chesnut's Civil War
  • A Separate Country
  • Chicano: A Novel
  • Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War
  • Canaan's Tongue
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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
More about Howard Bahr...
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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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