Friday, June 29, 2012

"This grim account..."

R. Rubenstein "RJR" (looking for a place) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME)ON THE FIRING LINE 5 STARS***** This review is from: The Sharpshooter 1862-1864 (Kindle Edition) When life and death are as near as the trigger finger, Jake Baker's aim is far from narrow. The Sharpshooter 1862-1864 delivers this top-shelf Civil War page turner with raw, absolute power. C.D. Phillips is on the firing line with stunning accuracy, hitting broad targets with a cannon of universal truth. Jake Baker, a sharpshooter assigned to the Texas 1 Regiment during the oxymoron called the Civil War, has fought in all the great battles through Gettysburg. But there is one fight remaining. It is when the night comes to the spirit and the past invades the violence of the moment. There's a lot of bloodshed in C.D. Phillips novel. But the blood sometimes seems like a metaphor in a house of contradictions or ambiguities. Our bloodthirsty hero, somewhere near the Texas-Mexican border, becomes haunted by his heritage. Much later, when he meets a pacifist colony of Brethren's in war-torn Virginia, that ambiguity begins to lift out of the fog like a paradoxical death or rebirth. And we understand the theme of Phillip's sharpshooters is no less than the abolition of war and the humanity found among men and women when their bodies and soul are on the firing line. "The skirmishers were still killing at a distance but their own men, comrades, were dying nearby.They screamed, gurgled, or fell silently. They died in as many ways as they lived. Some died with resignation and sadness. Others died spitting at the world and a God they thought deaf to their pleas. Some never knew they died. One moment they were sighting down the barrel of their rifle, and the next moment a minie ball entered their forehead .... Company G. Berdan's men were not strangers to death, but they were strangers to this type of mass death at close-quarters, and it unsettled them." This grim account of when the very existence of our nation was on the line is told in simple, compulsively readable fashion. Like the blood that flowed in Antietam's tributaries, the palpable way of war is often too close to us to truly absorb. For a while, I thought, The Sharpshooter 1862-1864 was too narrow, too bloody to contain the immense saga of our nation's most terrifying times. The aim of the shooter seemed so simple; the backdrop of names too awesome to be contained. But C.D.'s Sharpshooter has a more deadly aim. In the humanity of rebels and Yankees, talking to each other across enemy lines, or the split-second decision whether to fire and kill, or not ... when life and death is on the firing line, as close as the trigger finger, there is a moral lesson that Jake learns. It is a lesson we all must learn and the teachings, rather than narrow, become a universal truth. "On the battlefield, death wore no ceremonial cloak. Here they moved the dead out as fast as possible to make room for the dying." Among this backdrop, Mr. Charles Phillip has created an American classic about the Civil War. I believe it will be considered an unforgettable, singularly focused, top-shelf fiction. The battlefields are alive with death and glory, and the ambiguity of killing. The tension created, not when death is meted out, but when it is delayed or ignored for a higher principle, is what makes this book a sure shot. Mr. Charles Phillip has become the new sheriff in the town of historical fiction. Robert Rubenstein,

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