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The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War
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Group Reads: Post-1980 > The Black Flower Discussion Thread_December 2012

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
This is the place to discuss your thoughts and reactions to this novel of the American Civil War by Howard Bahr. Meet young Bushrod Carter, caught up in the chaos of the battle of Franklin, Tennessee.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 182 comments I was at the Battery Park Book Exchange this afternoon, which is a cool used bookstore/ champagne bar in downtown Asheville. I wasn't really planning on reading this book except it almost literally jumped off the shelf into my hands, and only cost $5. Fate!


message 3: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "I was at the Battery e commanderskPark Book Exchange this afternoon, which is a cool used bookstore/ champagne bar in downtown Asheville. I wasn't really planning on reading this book except it almost literall..."

Kismet. Joss. Karma. It is meant to be. Interestingly, we're coming up on the anniversary of the battle, fought the afternoon and night of November 30 , 1864. Not the typical Civil War novel. I think you will enjoy it. I'm be dropping character sketches of some of the commanders during the month, for the novel concentrates on the soldier in the line. It's a fine read.


Thing Two (thingtwo) | 127 comments Jenny wrote: "I was at the Battery Park Book Exchange this afternoon, which is a cool used bookstore/ champagne bar in downtown Asheville. I wasn't really planning on reading this book except it almost literall..."

I love that place!!!


message 5: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
I can't wait to get into this one. It's on the top of my tbr pile, which threatens to topple over any minute.


message 6: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
We have just passed the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. It was fought November, 30, 1864. The architect of the Confederate disaster was John Bell Hood, who had fought at Gettysburg with Lee. Wounded by an exploding shell he lost the use of his left arm for the remainder of his life. At Chickamauga he lost a leg, amputated just below the hip. He had pursued courtship of a Richmond belle, Sally Buchanan Preston, known to her friends as "Buck." She rebuffed Hood's courtship.

Hood had taken the command of the Army of Tennessee from Joe Johnson who had defended Atlanta using trenches and breastworks. His troops had loved him for his value of their lives.

Hood was a different animal. He was aggressive to the extreme. He despised fighting on the defensive. His objective was to cut off Union troops under the command of General Schofield from uniting with General George H. Thomas, known as the "Rock of Chickamauga" for his stand at that battle on September 19, 1864.

On the night of November 29th, Schofield's troops quietly crossed the exhausted Confederate lines without being discovered, moving on to take the heights of Franklin, Tennessee.

Upon learning that Schofield had eluded him, Hood became enraged, launching a frontal assault at Franklin, Tennessee, the following day. Most of the battle was fought at night. By the end of the battle, Hood's army would never again be an effective fighting force. Six Confederate Generals were killed during the battle at Franklin.

This is the chaos experienced by Bushrod Carter.

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John Bell Hood, 1831-1879


message 7: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
The Carnton Plantation

Some of the hottest fighting at Franklin surrounded the Carnton Plantation, occupied by the McGavock Family. Shown below is the house from the rear, revealing the back porch where many of the dead were originally carried and the wounded were treated.

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carnton_plantation_front
Carnton from the front approach

The McGavock Family Cemetery--

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The final resting place for many of the Confederate dead at Franklin

For background references on the battle of Franklin, see Shrouds of Glory: From Atlanta to Nashville--The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War by Winston Groom and the section on Springhill and Franklin in Vol. III of The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote


message 8: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Howard Bahr, the Author of "The Black Flower

From Wiki:

Howard Bahr (born 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 the curator of the William Faulkner house, Rowan Oak, in Oxford, Mississippi, for nearly twenty years. He also taught American literature during much of this time at the University of Mississippi. In 1993, he became an instructor of English at Motlow State College in Tullahoma, Tennessee, where he worked until 2006. Bahr is the author of three critically acclaimed novels centering around the American Civil War. He currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi, and teaches courses in creative writing at Belhaven University.
Bahr began his writing career in the 1970s, writing both fiction and non-fiction articles that appeared in publications such as Southern Living, Civil War Times Illustrated, as well as the short-lived regional publication, Lagniappe (1974–75) which he and Franklin Walker co-edited. His first published book, a children's story entitled "Home for Christmas," came out in 1987 and was re-published in 1997 in a different edition (with new illustrations) following the release of his first novel, The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War. This latter book, set during the Battle of Franklin in 1864, was a New York Times Notable Book.[citation needed]
In 2000, Bahr's second novel, The Year of Jubilo, was released. This novel, set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War in the fictional Mississippi town of Cumberland, deals with the dehumanizing effects of war and its aftermath on Southern society. The Year of Jubilo, like The Black Flower, was a New York Times Notable Book.
Bahr's third novel, The Judas Field, was released in 2006. In The Judas Field, Bahr again returns to the Battle of Franklin theme, but this time it is through the eyes of one of its participants, again from Cumberland, who travels back to the battlefield in the 1880s to recover the body of one of the fallen, and, in doing so, relives the horror of that fateful day in 1864. The novel was awarded the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction.[1]
Bahr's fourth novel, Pelican Road, published in 2008, is a novel of the railroads. It is named for its Christmas 1940 setting on "207 miles of ballasted heavyweight main line rail between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans."


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Howard Bahr

I've had the pleasure of meeting Professor Bahr twice. He has signed all three of his Civil War related novels for me. I've been fortunate to find first editions at reasonable prices. I highly recommend The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War and The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War as much as I do The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War.


message 9: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
Thanks, Mike. I love the background material you give us on our reads. This book is slow going for me because I am savouring every word. It is just magnificent. I also bought the other two novels and plan to read them soon.


message 10: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Thanks, Mike. I love the background material you give us on our reads. This book is slow going for me because I am savouring every word. It is just magnificent. I also bought the other two nove..."

Thanks, Diane. I enjoy the background work. And you will really enjoy Bahr's over books. Each flows out of "The Black Flower," but in different ways. I've not read Bahr's novel concerning the railroads. I must pick that one up.

Can you imagine Bahr being the curator of Rowan Oak for twenty years? I've wondered how much writing he accomplished during that time. The place grabs me just in the short visits I've had there. I can't imagine the feel one must develop for the place over such an extended period of time.

Mike


message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments Thanks for all this information Mike. It really adds to the reading. The Black Flower is a really excellent read and I'm very glad it's our book this month. It's both specific to the Civil War and universal to all human warriors to my way of thinking.

I'll be looking into the other books too.


message 12: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Sue wrote: "Thanks for all this information Mike. It really adds to the reading. The Black Flower is a really excellent read and I'm very glad it's our book this month. It's both specific to the Civil War and ..."

Thanks, Sue. Franklin was a reckless and unnecessary confrontation. While Grant could put his men through the meat grinder, the Union had the manpower to furnish reinforcements. The Confederacy did not have the men to spare for a continued war of aggressive frontal assaults.

Mike


message 13: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments These are facts I'm not fully familiar with and so very glad to be learning more. To find some of this in well-written fiction is the best of both worlds. Another plus of joining this group.


message 14: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Major General Patrick Cleburne

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As Bushrod dreams in Chapter One, he sees General Cleburne in the Chapel. Who was this man?

Cleburne was the second born son of an Irish physician. As such, upon his father's death, he would inherit nothing. He attempted to follow his father into the practice of medicine, but failed the entrance exam to Trinity College in Dublin. Thereafter he served in the British Army. Upon his discharge he emigrated to the United States, briefly living in Ohio, before resettling in Helena, Arkansas.

Cleburne was well liked and accepted by the people of Helena. He practiced as a pharmacist, and with business partners, published a newspaper. Upon the secession of Arkansas from the Union, Cleburne took up arms for the Southern states, not for slavery. He had no slaves. He fought for his adopted home and their acceptance of him.

Cleburne rapidly rose through the ranks, establishing his skill as a commander of men and an excellent tactician. Following the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, he became known as the "Stonewall of the West," and is considered by some military historians the finest General of the Confederacy.

Cleburne shocked the Confederate military and government by proposing to emancipate the slaves in exchange for their service in the Confederate Army. Cleburne recognized that the South did not have men to replace their casualties in Grant's adopted strategy of a war of attrition. He was ignored. Ultimately, the Confederate government adopted Cleburne's idea, but it came too late.

From Cleburne's letter stating his proposal:

"Satisfy the negro that if he faithfully adheres to our standard during the war he shall receive his freedom and that of his race ... and we change the race from a dreaded weakness to a position of strength. Will the slaves fight? The helots of Sparta stood their masters good stead in battle. In the great sea fight of Lepanto where the Christians checked forever the spread of Mohammedanism over Europe, the galley slaves of portions of the fleet were promised freedom, and called on to fight at a critical moment of the battle. They fought well, and civilization owes much to those brave galley slaves ... the experience of this war has been so far that half-trained negroes have fought as bravely as many other half-trained Yankees."

Bushrod's dream of Cleburne in the chapel may refer to Cleburne's statement on the march through Tennessee on the way to Franklin that St. John's Episcopal Church in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, reminded him of his Irish homeland.

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St. John's Episcopal Church


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
I am absolutely loving this book, and I know this may be considered heresy, but I think it's every bit as good as "Killer Angels" which is considered the holy grail of Civil War novels. I am reading slowly for two reasons; I am savoring the beautiful language, and time is at a premium at this time of year. Last night I read chapter 7, and it is one of the best descriptions of Confederate men and women and their thoughts and perceptions of " the lost cause", the war, the aftermath, and the futility of it all that I've ever read. It stirs the emotions no matter what part of the country or world you are from.


message 16: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I am absolutely loving this book, and I know this may be considered heresy, but I think it's every bit as good as "Killer Angels" which is considered the holy grail of Civil War novels. I am readi..."

You're ahead of me, Diane, but I'm making steady progress. The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War was a NYTimes notable book the year it was published. Each of Bahr's succeeding Civil War novels also achieved that status. The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War was not only a Notable book of the year, it also received the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction from the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg in 2007. So, I don't think your comment heresy.

I think what causes many readers to jump at The Killer Angels as the ultimate Civil War novel is because of the greater familiarity Americans have with the Battle of Gettysburg. The drama of Chamberlain at Little Round Top captures the imagination of so many readers of historical fiction. Then there is the presence of Lee, Longstreet, Meade, Hancock and the climax of Pickett's charge. The significance of Franklin pales against the Union victory at Franklin.

I find The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil Warunique in its portrayal of war primarily through the eyes of a young soldier of the line. The image of Bushrod with graying hair and mustache at the age of 26 so poignantly depicts the stress of war on those that must fight them. Equally compelling is Bushrod's belief that during Battle there is "another" Bushrod that takes over and commits actions which he would rather not think himself capable of committing. Bahr accomplishes much with a battle much less known and does it in a considerably more intimate level than Shaara, as masterful as that novel was. I'm with you.

Mike


message 17: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments Well said, Diane and Mike. I'm only on chapter 4 but am feeling all the points you've raised. When Bushrod has those "out of self" moments it's eerie.


message 18: by Jessie J (new)

Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments Drove through Franklin Sunday, on my way home from Chicago. Got my copy of the book in the mail yesterday! This is the book I'll be focusing on for December.


message 19: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
I've wanted to visit Franklin since I read "Widow of the South" some years ago. (Good, but not as good as Black Flower.) It may have to go on the must do list for 2013.


message 20: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Dec 11, 2012 06:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 182 comments Sue wrote: "Well said, Diane and Mike. I'm only on chapter 4 but am feeling all the points you've raised. When Bushrod has those "out of self" moments it's eerie."
Completely eerie. And you go there with him, the way it's written.

I don't usually read war books (my mind screams "Boring!") but okay, I'm enjoying this one. It is more than just a war account. The humanity of it makes all the difference.


Jeffrey Keeten (jkeeten) Diane wrote: "I've wanted to visit Franklin since I read "Widow of the South" some years ago. (Good, but not as good as Black Flower.) It may have to go on the must do list for 2013."

It is on my list Diane for my upcoming tour of the South. We have a New England trip for 2013, but I'm thinking in 2014 I may have to call on a certain lawyer in Tuscaloosa and shanghai him for a few days to hit some southern literary and historical sites.


message 22: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
Jeffrey, if you get as far as Charleston, SC, let me know. I'd be thrilled to meet the "Master Reviewer" in the flesh.


message 23: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "I've wanted to visit Franklin since I read "Widow of the South" some years ago. (Good, but not as good as Black Flower.) It may have to go on the must do list for 2013."

Franklin was one of those towns that was expanding over the battlefield. A pizza joint stood over the lines where Cleburne fell. Today the pizza joint is gone and there is a Cleburne monument. I recommend going there near the end of November when the trees are bare, as they were when Bushrod and his comrades were chasing Schofield up the Nashville Road. Study the lay of the land, go to Carnton, the Carter Gin House, and the McGavock family cemetery of course. And remember that in part Bahr dedicated "The Black Flower" for all the boys.

Mike


message 24: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Jeffrey wrote: "Diane wrote: "I've wanted to visit Franklin since I read "Widow of the South" some years ago. (Good, but not as good as Black Flower.) It may have to go on the must do list for 2013."

It is on m..."


I can imagine our wives rolling their eyes as we leap into the car and pull out of the drive. J: "Wonder when we'll see them again?" J2: "The world doesn't know what's about to hit." *grin*


Jeffrey Keeten (jkeeten) Diane wrote: "Jeffrey, if you get as far as Charleston, SC, let me know. I'd be thrilled to meet the "Master Reviewer" in the flesh."

well I have to see Charleston. I will definitely let you know if I get in your fair city.


Jeffrey Keeten (jkeeten) Mike wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Diane wrote: "I've wanted to visit Franklin since I read "Widow of the South" some years ago. (Good, but not as good as Black Flower.) It may have to go on the must do list for 20..."

I think that is a daily occurrence at both our households. The "eye rolling" the "dear lord" moments.


message 27: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Jeffrey, if you get as far as Charleston, SC, let me know. I'd be thrilled to meet the "Master Reviewer" in the flesh."

You just might get two for one. *laughing* Jeff is the tall one with the hair. We can hit Bicycle Books and lunch at Jestine's Kitchen.

Mike


message 28: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
Books and fried chicken - now that's heaven!


message 29: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments Diane wrote: "I am absolutely loving this book, and I know this may be considered heresy, but I think it's every bit as good as "Killer Angels" which is considered the holy grail of Civil War novels. I am readi..."

Diane, I'm currently in the middle of chapter 7 and finding the writing absolutely fantastic. I feel as though I have some understanding of what happened to the people who remained after the death and destruction. The description of the bitter lives of the women of the post-Confederate South was amazing. This book just keeps getting better.

And how about the "Archbishop" segment. That too had me a bit breathless at points along with the wasp's flight. What writing.


message 30: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
There's not one wasted or poorly chosen word. Not only can you see, hear and taste the battlefield and later the house/hospital, but Bahr makes you feel the fear and confusion and exhaustion of the soldiers. Bushrod's thoughts when told they had won the battle were so poignant; when looking at the field of recently departed it felt no different than losing.


message 31: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments I haven't reached that spot yet Diane, but it doesn't surprise me at all. I'm contemplating buying this and the other 2 of Bahr's Civil war novels. I think I will want to re-read them.


message 32: by Jessie J (new)

Jessie J (subseti) | 324 comments I'm on Chapter 4. I'm not as enthralled as some, but I'm enjoying the characterization, and the subtleties of dialect. I much prefer the portions of dialog to those of narration.

That said, one of the most poignant moments was (view spoiler). That couldn't have been achieved without narration.

I'm also mindful as I read of the band in the background, adding its discordant jangle. And Virgil C. even without his fiddle, adding a note of purity in its midst. As I begin Chapter 4, I'm fearful.

And as each battle begins, I always sing along with Uncle Ham Johnson, remembering all the words to whatever hardshell Baptist hymn he is singing. :^)


message 33: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
Sue, this will definitely be a re-read for me. I bought all 3 titles from Abebooks for less than $10.00 with free shipping. I am looking forward to getting to the other ones, but will wait til I have more down time next year. I feel like I am reading very slowly, but on the other hand, this is a book that has to be digested in small bits.


message 34: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments Diane wrote: "Sue, this will definitely be a re-read for me. I bought all 3 titles from Abebooks for less than $10.00 with free shipping. I am looking forward to getting to the other ones, but will wait til I ..."

Yes I've been looking at Abe books as The Black Flower, in particular, appears not to be available new anymore, at least not from Amazon. I'll likely do as you plan. I have too many other books lined up for the next couple of months already.


Jeffrey Keeten (jkeeten) For those that are interesting in my review of The Black Flower it is posted here. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I've got to say it is the most moving Civil War novel that I have ever read and I hope my review will convey that feeling.


message 36: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Jeffrey wrote: "For those that are interesting in my review of The Black Flower it is posted here. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I've got to say it is the most moving Civil War novel that I have ..."


A fine review as always, Jeff. Here's mine. Y'all may have noticed the links between our reviews. Thank goodness we're literary friends. Otherwise, Keeten & Sullivan would sound like a fine law firm. I'm retired from that! http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

Mike
Lawyer Stevens


message 37: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Franklin: The Aftermath

Battle_of_Franklin_II_1864
Kurz & Allen Print, 1891

While Hood claimed a Confederate victory, he was wrong. Union losses were:

2,326 total
189 killed
1,033 wounded
1,104 missing/captured

Confederate losses were far greater.

6,252 total
1,750 killed
3,800 wounded
702 missing/captured

Mike


message 38: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
The Carter House & Family

The fiercest fighting in Franklin surrounded the Carter family home. During the battle the family took shelter in the basement.

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Carter House

Today, the Cotton Gin house on the Carter property still stands. The wall is riddled with musket fire.

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The Carter Gin House Wall

Tod Carter March 24, 1840 – December 2, 1864

Tod Carter was returning home to his native Tennessee and native Williamson County with the Army of Tennessee in the fall of 1864, with his fellow soldiers in the 20th Tennessee Infantry (C.S.A.).

He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Franklin (30 November 1864) on the very land his father owned. He was carried from the field and died on December 2, 1864 in his own home.

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Tod Carter

The ghost story surrounding Tod Carter may be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCy2Gu... .

Mike
"Lawyer Stevens


Beverly | 194 comments I am trying to finish this by the end of Dec but I may have to reread it sometime in the future to fully appreciate it. I get a little confused at times when Bahr goes back and forth in time. I am glad that this was chosen as one of our reads. By 1864 it seemed that the soldiers were not even sure why they were fighting but that it was such a part of their lives that they had to keep going. Oh what suffering and agony!


message 40: by Thing Two (last edited Dec 26, 2012 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Thing Two (thingtwo) | 127 comments I'm reading this at the same time as Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which is about soldiers from the Iraqi war, and I get the same lack of understanding from them. Who knows why we fight a war, only the powers that put us there, perhaps.


Deborah | 62 comments I'm only a third in, but I too feel a similarity to other modern war stories, which is intriguing.


message 42: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Thing Two wrote: "I'm reading this at the same time as Bill Lynn's Halftime Walk, which is about soldiers from the Iraqi war, and I get the same lack of understanding from them. Who knows why we fight a war, only th..."

A very interesting combination of reads. Bahr's book was said to have been a display of post-Vietnam ferocity by some reviewers. Your observation is more to the point. Looking forward to your final impressions.

Mike


message 43: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Deborah wrote: "I'm only a third in, but I too feel a similarity to other modern war stories, which is intriguing."

Yes, indeed, it is. I hope you are enjoying Bahr as much as I have.

Mike


message 44: by Lawyer, "Lawyer Stevens" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 3206 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "I am trying to finish this by the end of Dec but I may have to reread it sometime in the future to fully appreciate it. I get a little confused at times when Bahr goes back and forth in time. I am ..."

I've read "The Black Flower" three times. Each read has become a deeper and more meaningful experience. I highly recommend the other two volumes of Bahr's Civil War trilogy, The Year of Jubilo: A Novel of the Civil War and The Judas Field: A Novel of the Civil War.

Mike


message 45: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments I think The Black Flower really makes clear how the soldiers are really fodder for the process of war and that one powerful man CAN hold the lie/death power over so many. These men were worn down by the time they reached Franklin. They still had ideals, but they were wearing down under the weight of deprivation, death. But they still followed orders, keeping their dreams of home internalized.


message 46: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 2677 comments Mod
Sue, I think your point was illustrated when Bushrod planned to desert and walk home, then was ashamed of himself for feeling that way and stayed on. The soldiers were really just automatons by the end of the war, getting up when orders were given to march, and going to the next battlefield (on empty stomachs).


message 47: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments Definitely Diane. I really wished the men wouldn't stand up when the order was given and you could feel that the lieutenant giving the unwanted order almost hoped they wouldn't. Of course then he was proud when they did stand. Ironic.


Thing Two (thingtwo) | 127 comments Diane wrote: "Sue, I think your point was illustrated when Bushrod planned to desert and walk home, then was ashamed of himself for feeling that way and stayed on. The soldiers were really just automatons by th..."

Fascinating. There is a scene in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk that mimics this one. Billy wants to quit - not return to Iraq - but he is afraid of losing the respect of his girlfriend, so he follows orders and sticks with his company.

I recently read a book recommended by Larry Bassett called I'd Rather Teach Peace. It speaks to the idea of not following orders, not becoming automatons, but stresses how difficult this is because we are trained beginning in pre-school! We teach children to stay in line, raise their hands, not run, not talk, put their names on the paper in the top right-hand corner (not the left!), and at some point the rules take over and they - or I should say "we" - become automatons taking orders.

How do we expect soldiers to act any differently, or should we?


message 49: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 548 comments It does make you wonder about those who are able to step aside from all this built in training and expectation and look at what they and others are doing with different eyes. I suppose they must be like artists and others who see the world differently, at least at times. Certainly Bushrod did, though he was not able to sustain that dream to go home.

Where does active dissent come from? It's not all moral or based in fear or fatigue.


message 50: by Larry (new)

Larry Bassett Sue wrote: "Where does active dissent come from?"

There is a long history of conscientious objection to military service for moral and religious reasons. A good basic book is Ain't Gonna Study War No More .


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