Title: Two Brothers: One North, One South
Author: David H. Jones
Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Staghorn Press
Publish Date: 2008
Clifton frowned in resentment at the tone of the question. “William and I were always very close, enjoying the very best of brotherly love and harmonious relationship. However, as discord between the states increased, what had been simple differences in political perspective grew into something substantially more ominous. I couldn’t change that!”
Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones, page 41
In Two Brothers, David H. Jones does an exceptional job at recreating the peri-bellum era. The dress, mannerisms, and patterns of speech make history come alive in the imagination as the reader is drawn into the unfolding tale of two brothers, Major Clifton Prentiss, a Union Officer, and William Prentiss of the Maryland 2nd Battalion, a Confederate soldier.
The history of the family and how it came to be that, out of four brothers, William took the Secessionist stand is told to Walt Whitman by the three surviving brothers. Clifton Prentiss, hospitalized from an injury sustained in battle, is joined by his brothers Dr. John Prentiss, Jr. and Meliville Prentiss. Whitman, being the last person with their youngest brother, having comforted him in his last days, shares with them what he learned from the rebel soldier as he lay dying.
Two Brothersis a fascinating look into the life and emotions that surrounded the events that led up to, and were felt in, The War Between the States. Even though I had a well-informed knowledge of the Civil War, in reading this book I experienced more of the emotions, acrimony and tension that was felt during such an uncertain time. The Prentiss family being in Baltimorians during this time, they were in an epicenter of the Northern push for union and emancipation versus the Southern desire for the state’s rights to self-govern as guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution and the economic reliance on slavery.
Walt Whitman, one of America’s greatest poets, was a firm supporter of the Union, and took a job in an Army Paymaster’s office to support the Union cause. Visiting his injured brother in a field hospital, he was confronted with the suffering and pain sustained by the wounded and began giving comfort to the worst of the injured with regular visits to the Armory Square Hospital.
While Two Brothers is a thoroughly researched and exceptionally written book through which Jones brings to life this true story of a compassionate poet and a family torn by the War Between Brothers, it’s not my usual read. I did enjoy it and learned from it, but it’s not something I would pick up on my own. However, if you are into historical novels Two Brothersis a must read. Also, I would recommend this book be included in a curriculum course that covers the Civil War Era. It’s easy enough to read for high school students to learn from as well as college students.
My own preferences aside, I would give Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones 5 out of 5 stars.