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Theory of War

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
"[A] vivid historical novel--part poignant biographical fiction, part raw frontier epic."
Taking flight from an extraordinary real-life family history, here is a riveting novel of how the past lives on, generation after generation. THEORY OF WAR is the richly imagined story of one woman's journey into what a distant relation might have experienced--and how echoes of his
Paperback, 257 pages
Published April 19th 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published 1993)
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Carolina Gonzalez
Jul 21, 2016 Carolina Gonzalez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very powerful story, it's hard to understand the feeling of being a slave! It applies to the past and future of any generation.. Some may not get to live it in a life time, some may experience the feeling at first hand.
Such an interesting read. It was heartbreaking and felt so hopeless so much of the time. A story of the very real effects of neglect and abuse throughout the generations of the one directly affected. But so fascinating to read about WHITE slavery in the US.
Jun 08, 2014 Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story, but thought the author could have went without interrupting the story every now and then to ramble on about stuff that didn't need to be in the book. It also made it hard to keep track of the story, because she would just cut in and start talking about something completely different. Either way, this was a great book and story, that just annoyed me.

The author did a great job of capturing and displaying the issue of non-traditional slavery in America. Would've gave it five st
Apr 19, 2014 Marlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the most powerful books I ever read. Long ago as an undergrad, recommended by my teacher Lonnie Carter. It's a biography written by the granddaughter of the subject, her grandfather, who was a white boy sold into slavery in the civil war (yes, this did happen to poor people frequently, regardless of race, though history no longer mentions it in public school.) The first thing his new family did was yank all his teeth out with pliers to sell them and it just got better. When he gr ...more
Andrew Myerson
May 02, 2011 Andrew Myerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Joan Brady's Theory of War is a story regarding the white slave trade which took place in the Reconstruction era of the south after the civil war. The novel has two protagonists: one is the grandfather who is sold into slavery as a child, Jonathan Carrick and the other is the narrator who is the grandaughter investigating the journals left behind by her grandfather as she learns of his story. The parts of the novel in which we are reading about Jonathan, it is being narrated by his grand
Aug 16, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mid 4. This novel explores a forgotten chapter in the history of slavery in the United States. The devastation and social upheaval resulting from the American Civil War left many orphaned white children with no means of survival aside from being sold as indentured labour to farming communities carving out homesteads further west. The author has our narrator, a woman confined to a wheelchair by a benign tumour on her spine, decide to trace the tragic story of her own grandfather's such slavery th ...more
Mercia McMahon
The premise of this book was very interesting, that of Jonathan, a white boy sold into slavery after the American Civil War and the impact that this had on the subsequent generations of his family. The novel is a fictionalised memoir of the author's family, but is mostly concerned with Jonathan, leaving the links to the subsequent generations tenuous. That first half of the book is hard-going if you do not enjoy male-focused memoirs, but it is well worth persevering with.
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 Ryan Holiday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There isn't much to say about this other than it is long out of print, incredibly strange and one of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read. Calling it fiction is a bit of an insult though because it is based on this woman's actual family history and it feels so damn real that you get lost in it. Here is part of the author's note:

"My grandfather was a slave. This isn't an uncommon claim for an American to make if the American is black. But I'm not black. I'm white. My grandfather was white, t
Nov 11, 2012 Shana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like historical fiction
Recommended to Shana by: Nina Bernstein, author of the Lost Children of Wilder, in her notes section in that book
This book is about a very interesting subject. It does not seem to be common knowledge that young white children were sold into slavery after the Civil War. This is a "fictional memoir" of sorts, as the author is trying to recreate what may have happened to her grandfather, who was one of these children sold into slavery. As a social worker, I also thought that the effect that this had on future generations was also interesting. That being said, it took my quite a while to get through this. I di ...more
May 10, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yanks, read-in-2015
I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. For some reason, I had not expected to like it, but it was really good. A very interesting story and very well told.
Nov 04, 2015 Beckie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So sad and hard to believe that such awful things happened just a lifetime ago.
Kasa Cotugno
I was combing my shelves in order to add books to my virtual shelf that I've read in the past that had a lasting effect on me. Theory of War was read at a time when I was trying to catch up on the Whitbread winners of the past, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It deals with the selling into slavery of a young Irish boy, and is written by one of his descendants. Since it was so long ago that I read it, I've replaced it in my "to read" area, which is unusual for me.
Oct 08, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written story of white slavery, conflict, vengeance, purpose and so on, in a cinematic flavour, set in the post-Civil-War United States. It follows the life of Jonathan Carrick and his all-consuming 'war' with his arch nemesis of sorts, George Stokes. Brady demonstrates the heart-consuming power of hatred in epic fashion.
Feb 18, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in what makes different people tick
Recommended to Deb by: read a review somewhere
That what came before us does affect and how a damaged individual can make it through life just out of pure stubborn will. This is a different type of book it looks at darkness and how one can live and exist on this and what it does to the family that comes later.
Heavy but adventurous read.
Jacqui Lafrance
Feb 22, 2008 Jacqui Lafrance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember being quite effected by the power of emotion in this book. Also, I was living in the south at the time where the friction between north and south was still alive and well.
Dec 10, 2009 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story. I didn't realize that white children were often sold into slavery after the Civil War. What a sad story this was.
Mar 10, 2009 Daria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing story, thoughtful, painful, and tight. For any historical fiction buff this is an excellent choice.
Mar 05, 2011 Géraldine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandons, usa, 2011
Une étoile car j'ai appris quelque chose ;)
Mais je ne suis pas parvenue à entrer dans cette histoire de famille.
Jan 28, 2008 Mindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating - good story, quick read. Entertained me through my flights to and from Florida!
Stef Onthesea
Jul 27, 2011 Stef Onthesea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book to get under the hand.
Mar 09, 2013 Trina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is in my top ten books of all time!
Giselle Trent
A Cynthia/Giselle recommendation!
Apr 30, 2008 K. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, but shocking
Carla Burgess
May 24, 2013 Carla Burgess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My all time favorite book.
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Joan Brady is an American-British writer. She is the first woman and American to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for her novel Theory of War.
She was married to writer Dexter Masters and has a son who is also an author: Alexander Masters.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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