Sandra's Reviews > North and South

North and South by John Jakes
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 01, 2012

liked it
Read in September, 2011


Part 1 of the North and South trilogy.

The North and South trilogy tells the story of two families before, during, and after the American Civil War. The two families in question, the Mains from the Southern state of South Carolina and the Hazards from the Northern State of Pennsylvania, are bound together primarily through the friendship of their second-eldest sons Orry (Main) and George (Hazard), who meet at the beginning of the book, in 1842, at the West Point Military Academy and become friends for life -or so they hope. Orry, George, and their ever expending families live in turbulent times. The differences between the Northern and Southern states become clearer every year, particularly concerning the topic of slavery, and put a strain on their friendship. Can the bond between them and their families survive impending war? The book halts its ale in 1861, on the eve of the Civil War.

North and South isn't just a period novel, it's a well-researched historical novel that intends to show the political turmoil the United States were in halfway through the 18th century. If you read between the lines of the principal Hazard-Main plot, you can find many historical references, names, and dates which allow the reader to get a rough idea about why slavery could not simply be abolished in a mere day and how the Civil War came about. (However, do keep in mind that this is a historical novel, not a history book. If you wish to gain more precise info on the Civil War you'd best visit a libary). Also, if you have the Signet edition of North and South, you'll find an interesting afterword by the author at the back of the book, outlining his purposes for the trilogy and his take on the consulted historical sources.

I'm of course aware that this historical novel was primarily written for entertainment purposes, but nonetheless the use of modern-day phrases, expressions, and particularly swearwords annoys me at times. Somehow I just don't see an 18th-century gentleman shouting "you son of a bitch!" in the middle of a crowded area. It wasn't the done thing at the time and goes against the novel's historical character. But then again, that might just be my love of authentic Victorian novels talking...

WARNING: The book's 800+ pages in extreme small print might scare off many readers, but if you're even remotely interested in history you should give the book a chance. It's well worth a read.
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read North and South.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.