Wayne Wilson's Reviews > Rebel

Rebel by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Jun 22, 2010

it was amazing
Read from June 17 to 20, 2010

A great read! The civil war is one of my favorite subjects and this historical novel takes a look at the war from the point of view of a young man from Boston who finds himself fighting for the South. The book is the first in I guess several that center on the impetuous Nathaniel Starbuck as he serves the confederacy.

I was struck by how unorganized the South was as they went to war. The citizens of the South were a much more individual centered society. They didn't go for many rules and they didn't like to take orders. These Southern Gentlemen had their own ideas about being governed and I think their biggest problem with they Yankees was not the abolition of Slavery but more to do with the Yankees telling them what to do.

If one were to remove slavery from the equation I think I find my sympathies lie with the South as they seem to have a better take on the power of the Federal Government. They don't trust the Feds and they don't want the Feds to have more power than the individual States. The South is fighting to keep their slaves but their basic reason for fighting is to keep the rights of the States more powerful than the rights of the Federal Government.

Cornwell in this book shows the North as unwilling to compromise or negotiate with the South. Cornwell thinks that if the Feds had come up with a plan to compensate the Slave states for freeing the slaves that the South would have gone for it. Most were looking for a way out of slavery. It seems that Cornwell sees this war as more of a war between State rights and the Feds need for a powerful central government.

Who knows if the ideas of the founding fathers especially Thomas Jefferson to keep most of the power of governance in the hands of the States would have worked in our modern world but you have to figure that if the Feds were a little less powerful we wouldn't have been in Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq wars it might have even been that we would have missed WW I and perhaps even WW II.

I guess that is one reason why our Civil War is such a fascinating time in our country's history. The Battle of Bulls Run had it been a victory for the North would have ended the Civil War right then and there. The South's improbable victory at Manasas or Bulls Run, won in spite of the confusion and lack of leadership from the South, turned the war into a long and bloody slug fest. With brother fighting brother with an intensity and anger that can only be seen when a brother fights his brother.

Again great book, I couldn't put it down. Not quite as good as Killer Angels but right up there with my favorite Civil War Novels.

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