Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Review--Pittsburg Landing

Clark, Robert Burns. Pittsburg Landing. Definitive Words Cyber Publishing, 283 pages. ISBN 9780985537500, $19.95.

Best known for his work as a writer and producer for The Dukes of Hazzard, Robert Burns Clark is a veteran writer with many credits under his belt. Pittsburg Landing however is his first novel. While showing promise this is a book that could have been improved through better editing (was the term "slacker" really used in the 1860's?). In addition, having tied his story to a major Civil War battle it seems Burns should have had the battle play a more pivotal role and the setting should have seemed more authentic. A good reading of Killer Angels might have been in order.

The book revolves around two basic story lines. First are Amos Bingham and his son Noah. Amos is a veteran of the Mexican War and from his experiences there he has taken a vow not to fight again. He has never told this to his son Noah who feels his father is a coward for not joining a local regiment. Noah vows to save the family name and despite being too young is able to join an infantry unit. Amos leaves home to find his son and bring him home. Unfortunately along the way his character becomes repetitive and predictable.

The other major story involves Union officer William Moore. We follow Moore through his reenlistment in the army, his budding love affair with the headstrong daughter of a friend, and his call to the front ultimately leading him to battle at Pittsburg Landing.

The story leads the major characters to the gruesome battle that took place in Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing. With over 23,000 casualties at this battle readers should expect for there to be bloodshed, loss, and lives changed forever.

Overall this was a fast reading story and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The fact that I kept turning the pages means there is something there despite the fact that as Civil War fiction I think there is better out there. I didn't finish the book wanting to know more about the actual battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing). Rather, I felt I had just read a war related book that could have been set at any battle and possibly at any time. And some times that's OK.

Pittsburg Landing won Honorable Mention at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival in the fiction category.

Please feel free to keep up with Mr. Clark by going to his website.

Thanks to Susan Schwartzman Public Relations for sending a complimentary review copy.

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