From the Civil War to the Culture Wars, The War Less Civil
is a panoramic American saga that begins in the fall of 1864 when Henry Rosenberg joins the Union Army despite the powerful objections of his pacifist wife, Augusta. The novel ends in 1991 after the conclusion of the first Iraq War. Intervening decades reveal the attitudes of Henry and Augusta's descendants toward war and peace, love and marriage, success and failure, all of which dramatically define their lives and family relationships.
The first two chapters focus on Augusta's life on the home front, suffering the physical and emotional hardships of living without the husband who, she fears, will, at war's end, forsake her and their two small sons. Can she overcome her angry rejection of him? Augusta believes, whether her husband survives a brutal war or not, that she herself might very well be the cause of her abandonment.
Henry Rosenberg's most profound experience in the Civil War stamps his only daughter with the seal of pacifism. Or does it? As the twentieth century dawns, her marriage to John Helden reveals changing attitudes towards love, children, politics and the Great War of 1914.
When John Helden Jr. marries Anita Thilman in 1932, social currents and family attitudes again alter political leanings. The transcending reality of a looming second world war plunges a young mother into fear and doubt, and renders an idealistic brother helpless at facing his greatest challenge.
In the jubilant aftermath of World War II, John Helden Jr. observes a harshly changed America in which he must fight his own cousin to survive amidst a large but disintegrating family enterprise.
As the Vietnam War unravels into a humiliating defeat for the United States, unprecedented conflicts emerge at home. Rulings by the Supreme Court result in fierce societal divisions, while a beautiful young woman chooses a life that leads to a heart-wrenching destiny. Slowly but inevitably a new kind of uncivil war emerges in the midst of the Heldens' third and fourth generations, one that proves almost as irreconcilable as the conflict between Lincoln's Union and the old Southern Confederacy.
Yet, throughout the fleeting decades, the indomitable spirit of Henry Rosenberg endows his descendants not only with a love for peace and loathing of war, but with a lingering sense of desire: the desire to defend the noblest ideals of one's country."A sprawling debut historical novel about a family that grapples with war and political tumult . . . this is a powerful, moving tale, reminiscent of John Steinbeck's East of Eden in its scope and artistic aspiration . . . a stirring homage to, and critique of, an ever-changing United States."
-Kirkus Reviews"Anyone who wants to read a beautiful piece of historical fiction that takes you through America's growth and the struggles of families trying to find their place in a new world will find this book tremendously satisfying. This novel is an extraordinary first book."
-Peter Buffett, Composer, Author"I have read this book, as it was entered in the Faulkner Society's literary competition, which I run, and think it is a marvelous read."
-Rosemary James, Faulkner SocietyAuthor:
Joseph Lewis HeilPublisher:
Lake Lore Press, LLCPublished:
9.02h x 5.98w x 1.31dISBN:
About the Author
Joseph Lewis Heil was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in the Great Books Program from Notre Dame University. He then earned a degree in structural engineering at Marquette University. For more than thirty years he worked as a consulting engineer in private practice. Inspired by family stories, a love of history and literature, his observations of trends in American society, politics and culture, he began writing The War Less Civil in the late 1990s.
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