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Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York
by Peter Quinn
The Civil War has just entered its third bloody year and the North is about to impose its first military draft, a decision that in New York City will spark the most devastating and destructive riot in American history. Peter Quinn, acclaimed author of Looking for Jimmy and Hour of the Cat, relates the events of this tumultuous time through the lives of people drawn from ev ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by The Overlook Press
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As the author of a historical novel that is also set during the Civil War, I was blown away by the magnificently researched depiction of the times in The Banished Children of Eve. It’s hard to believe that author Peter Quinn was not actually alive in 1863, and a witness to New York during the Civil War: to the newly built mansions and to the shanty towns, to the concert saloons and orphanages, to the theaters and the railway cars which were switched from steam engines to horsepower when entering ...more
A bright-eyed writer, a noir-ish Irisher that grew up in an NYC orphanage who lies himself out of pickles, a mixed race actress, a housemaid, a minstrel, an Irish cop turned Republican... All of these characters and hundreds more float throught the city under the awning of Brooks Brothers, riding ferries to Brooklyn, drinking bathtub whiskey in dark dives and just trying to survive in a city in 1863 where the police are more corrupt than the politicians and the citizens must learn to scam to mak ...more
Aug 01, 2007 Ben rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
Quinn's amazing book tells the stories of various New Yorkers involved and swept up in the Draft Riots of 1863. From the poor Irish live-in maids to a mulatto actress to a wealthy American businessman who built himself up from nothing, what truly makes this book beautiful, powerful, and captivating is Quinn's eloquent and simple ability to tell each individual's tale. At least half of the book is spent following each character from their birthplace (some in New Jersey, some the South, many from ...more
Peter Quinn's meticulous research embodies his characters with realism so powerful, the reader can smell the sweat and blood of the New York City draft riots of1863. Mainstream history books don't contain or won't publish essential details of America's past.
I might not have stuck with this if I had not been trapped without reading options on a family visit where everyone else endlessly watched television. Very slow start but gradually the plot, the writing and the characters snared me. Scalpeens and booly dogs abound - the period detail is amazing - historical characters like Stephen Foster and Civil War general Zook (yep, Zook!) mix in with the fictional characters seamlessly. Terrific book once you get through the ponderously slow first 250 pages ...more
I'm not a big fan of historical novels but this is "right there." Tremendously engaging story of early Irish immigrant culture in NYC against the confusion and tragedy of the Civil War (did you know much of New York was against fighting the war?). A very enjoyable, challenging and informative piece of historical fiction. The amount of research that went into this effort is astonishing, as is the amount one learns of Irish-american and civil war history. Highly recommended.
Jul 19, 2012 Norma Wine rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
A compelling and carefully researched novel set in the turbulent days leading up to the American Civil War. Quinn captures the oppression caused by poverty, crime, anti-immigrant and racist attitudes which erupted into chaos in the city of New York. You think New York City is a tough place now? If you have an interest in the subject, this book does a better job of depicting this time and place than did Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York. (Sorry Marty).
The author gives his readers plenty of characters and all with sufficient history. Overall it was a good read about the New York draft riots in 1863, but there were times when the details got in the way of the fluidity of the story. All quite well researched and interesting characters, carrying their cumbersome history wherever they went . One question I had,of what importance was the character of Stephen Foster that he made it into this story?
Not what I expected or hoped for. While the character development was satisfactory, the plot read too much like a series of short stories. Most disappointing was that it may have been Civil War Era, but it was not Civil War. I guess I'm glad that I read it. I would have preferred a more connected plot and would liked to have learned a lot more about the time.
Jan 22, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs.
A captivating book told through multiple characters. It gives a gripping and historically accurate view of New York during the Civil War but the war isn't the focus or the Civil War is not the war that is describe in the book. Very good!
Peter Quinn is the author of the novel Banished Children of Eve (winner of an American Book Award) and previously served as speechwriter for New York governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. A third-generation New Yorker whose granparents were born in Ireland, he is currently Editorial Director for Time Warner and lives in Hastings, New York.More about Peter Quinn...