"An uncommon Civil War novel based on the bloody sacrifice of one of the author's ancestors.
"In 1861 in Sandy Creek, New York, Moreau Salisbury doesn't want to go to war despite his father's urging him to fight slavery: "You know where evil resides!" Moreau plans to become a preacher, but after helping an escaped slave flee to Canada, he leaves the seminary to go to war, enlisting in the 24th New York Volunteers with his cousin, Merrick. So far, it's an engaging but not unusual Civil War story. Moreau often writes his parents and his intended, Miss Helen Warriner, as the war grinds on elsewhere, and eventually he meets the elephant-the soldiers' term for seeing battle. Amid hails of iron Minié balls he sees bloody mist followed by acres of wounded men and knows that bravery in battle makes no difference. War changes Moreau. He kills men and doesn't look like that aspiring preacher anymore. But this war isn't quite through with him; it has not yet crushed his spirit completely. That comes later, after armies clash at Antietam in the country's worst bloodbath ever and the Salisbury brothers suffer grave wounds. These are gripping scenes, but Moreau's dark challenge continues during his long and painful recovery at home. His ankle and his world are shattered, and the scenes of despondency and bitterness are heartbreaking. While Helen and the Salisburys struggle to heal Moreau's body, he responds to their love with verbal cruelty. Author Luke Salisbury tells a compelling story about his ancestor Moreau, and it's "as true as I can make it." Slavery is America's original sin, and the Salisbury cousins are among so many who pay penance.
"An engrossing, well-told story by a writer with a unique perspective."
"Miller's debut blends history and melodrama with mixed results. In 2000, documentary filmmaker James Main is obsessively researching the life of legendary screen goddess Greta Garbo when he encounters an old man, Seth Moseley, who has a doozy of a yarn about Garbo's secret scheme to prevent WWII by assassinating Adolf Hitler. Flash back to 1939; Seth, then a scrappy young reporter eager to pay off some gambling debts, stows away on the ocean liner Athenia, headed from New York to England, to get a story about the elusive Garbo, who's aboard. He soon discovers that the ship is full of disguised conspirators and is being stalked by a German U-boat. When war in Europe breaks out while the ship is in mid-journey, Seth's mission becomes a lot more complicated. Neither Seth's adventures nor James's emotional struggles are especially convincing, but readers who appreciate the charm and daffiness of old pulp magazines may have fun. (Apr.)"
Excerpt: "Ahmari recounts each phase of his journey from Iranian atheist to Marxist radical to freewheeling libertine and finally to conservative Catholic with great literary skill and brutal honesty -- and for that reason, his memoir, From Fire by Water, is an engrossing and highly entertaining read."
Excerpt: "Sohrab Ahmari's entry into the genre, Fr
om Fire, By Water: My Journey to the Catholic Faith, is interesting and well-written. He has a novelist's sense of detail and anecdote in the service of narrative, and an essayist's ability to turn a phrase. There are moments of pathos, wry observation, and humor ("I flew to Seattle in search of class prestige and the classless society"). He is one of the better young conservative writers, and this book shows it."
Overall, the book is marked by an unusual honesty and frankness. For the sake of a truthful assessment of the history of the Vatican's dealing with China, Cardinal Zen does not shy away from quoting private conversations with Pope Benedict XVI and from secret Vatican meetings concerning China. Yet, this disclosure is meant to be for the good of the Church, for the sake of a policy that truly protects the Catholics in China and defends the truth of the Catholic Faith."
Excerpt: "If you want an evening of solid thinking, intelligent writing, reflection filled with hope, and just a good read, I recommend a comfortable chair, a glass of that beverage and this book. The book's most important; the other two won't hurt."