2011, marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, has been a time for many Americans to reflect on the war and the history of our country. Jack McGuire did just this in Joining Up, memorializing Brooklyn’s famous red-legged devils of the Fourteenth regiment through fiction. Through his compelling tale, readers are reminded of the fearless and noble nature of the abolitionist regiment that became a favorite of Abraham Lincoln and of all Americans.
McGuire evokes the powerful words of William Burleigh; “The gallant Fourteenth forget them not: our gallant boys who, for the nation’s life, stood amid the battle grime and noise and were baptized in its flames and blood,” setting the tone for the novel, which depicts the gallantry, bravery, and commitment to justice of the Fourteenth. Joining Up chronicles the tale of two young boys, Will and Bobby, who run away from Saint John’s home in Brooklyn, inspired by the image of Will’s brother, Andrew, in uniform. The boys are inspired by the dauntless spirit of the Fourteenth, driven by the desire to become a part of their noble cause. McGuire addresses the mystique of their “red legs” as Will recounts a story that he had been told to his friend, Bobby; “The way I heard the story is they fought one battle in Union blue and got whipped good. They been wearing red ever since.”
Through his accounts of battle and Andrew’s life in the army, readers are given insight into the bravery and daring of the Fourteenth, depicting such scenes as the “fierce assault” that drove the disorganized Rebel infantry into the railroad cut. Through his fictional account, McGuire captures the spirit of the Fourteenth, to whom our nation owes a great deal. In writing Joining Up, Jack McGuire ensures that the gallant Fourteenth will be not be forgotten.
My Take on the Book
Get ready to be transported back in time. This book deftly allows the reader to relive the experiences of the Fourteenth regiment. While you may not know much about this group of soldiers, in reading this book you can see the bravery and valor that they show within the Civil War.
The author an amazing job of portraying the soldiers and you can tell that he has put much time and effort into sharing this with his readers. While the book is still a novel, there is much fact intertwined, and many times it becomes had to distinguish what is fact and what is fiction. This is not a bad thing as it allows the author to make the world come alive in the mind of his reader and allows the reader to go and determine for him/herself what was fact and what was fiction.
The author shares well developed characters and an engaging pliot as well throughout the story. I know that for me, the harsh realities of this day and age are ones that today I do not know if I could have endured (though I probably would have had to, if I was living in the era).
The author shares this harsh reality in a clear manner, and allows the reader to live vicariously through the characters. This was a great story that anyone interested in the Civil War or anyone interested in a book that touches the human heart and soul will enjoy!
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