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A Separate Country
By Robert Hicks
Read by Kevin T. Collins, Sherman Howard, and Isabel Keating

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A Separate Country

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A Separate Country
A Novel
By Robert Hicks
Read by Kevin T. Collins, Sherman Howard, and Isabel Keating
Hachette Audio, (2009)
An Unabridged Recording on 15 CDs
ISBN 13: 978-1-6002-4762-0
Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Herbert White - October 21, 2009

Robert Hicks is a skilled writer with a knack for taking the reader back in time, and into the hearts and minds of his characters. In A Separate Country, Hicks sets his sights on General John Bell Hood, a former and extremely controversial Confederate General who was crippled during the American Civil War. This novel is set in New Orleans, shortly after the end of the war, and Hood is trying to make a new life for himself. He marries a beautiful woman named Anna Marie Hennen, who overlooked his numerous disabilities - which included a missing leg and a crippled arm. Settling in New Orleans, Hood goes into business for himself, and tries to establish a solid foundation for his new life, and his new wife. However, the controversies that beset him during the war continued to pursue him in civilian life. Had he been a man of lesser spirit, he might just have given up, and faded away. Hood was, however, at his heart, a fighting man, and he refused to let controversy, adversity, or even despair drive him down. This book follows Hood as he faces the myriad of demons that beset him, and how he and his young wife struggle through it all, together, and stood together to support their ever growing family that eventually included eleven children, before both he and his wife tragically fell victim to Yellow Fever.

I have to admit, I came to this book already somewhat leery about reading a fictional book that centered on Hood. I'll grant you that he was a brave man and a valiant fighter, but he also had a reputation for being reckless and sacrificing his men needlessly and I was afraid that Hicks would try to make a mythological hero out of him. However, I like Hicks writing, so I thought that I would give A Separate Country a try. Hicks aptly paints Hood as more of an antihero, rather than a traditional fictional hero, and I found that I greatly enjoyed the book. He did a fine job of presenting all of Hood's faults, but also showing his indomitable spirit and highlighting the unbelievable number of tragedies that beset the man throughout the course of his life.

In writing this book, Hicks choose to tell the story from the viewpoint of three separate narrators, so it is apt that the audio edition of this book is read by three highly skilled actors who bring this unforgettable, though admittedly dark story, to life. I highly recommend this book not only to fans of historical fiction and Civil War buffs, but also to anyone interesting in reading, or listening to, a well-written novel that will transport you back to 19th century New Orleans and take you on a journey into the life of a remarkable family.


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