Theory of War

by Joan Brady | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0349104573 Global Overview for this book
Registered by libragirl of Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on 3/22/2005
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by libragirl from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Tuesday, March 22, 2005
1993 Whitbread Book of the Year:
Cruelly treated by his master, Alvah Stokes, it is Alvah's son George who becomes the object of hatred that endures half a century. Forced to submit, but never submissive, Jonathon's escape to a new life as a railroadman, then as an itinerant preacher, opens up a new world for him. But within him lies the need for revenge - a war against George, in fact - that must be satisfied.

Journal Entry 2 by libragirl from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, March 23, 2005
for release at the BCNZ Convention Easter weekend

Journal Entry 3 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Sunday, March 27, 2005
Found in the mobile OCZ this morning.

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Journal Entry 4 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Something I never knew is that one strange consequence of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery was the emergence of an underground slave trade in white children.

It makes sense, when you think about it: on the one hand you have all these people who've had to free their black slaves, so have lost their source of free labour, and on the other hand, as after any war, you've got a lot of children who've been left fatherless and whose mothers are struggling to support them alone (and even if the father of the family did make it home from the war intact, there's the usual post-war baby boom meaning that there's more mouths to feed). Having a black slave after abolition would draw the attention of the law, but if a rich landowner ("rich" being a relative term, of course) were to kindly offer to take care of a few of the children of a poor widow, who would think badly of him? And who was to know if he paid her for the children, and who was to know if after he'd "adopted" the children he treated them like slaves?

Joan Brady's grandfather was one of these unacknowledged white slaves, and in this book she explores what his life (and the lives of hundreds of other similar children) might have been like, through the fictional story of Jonathan Carrick and his descendants.

It was fascinating to read about an aspect of history that I'd never even heard of before, but unfortunately Brady's writing style made the book a bit of a struggle to read - she jumps back and forth between timelines, often in the middle of a sentence, so that I kept losing track of what was going on and had to go back and re-read passages. And I never did figure out what the significance was of the narrator being in a wheelchair - she keeps drawing attention to the fact throughout the book, but it doesn't seem to actually add anything to the story (unless it's supposed to be some sort of metaphor about everyone in the family being emotionally crippled - if it is, it doesn't work very well).

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Journal Entry 5 by TheLetterB from Dunedin, Otago New Zealand on Friday, July 28, 2006
Picked up from FutureCat at the Christchurch 150th birthday release. Look forward to reading this.

Journal Entry 6 by TheLetterB at Landcare Research in Lincoln, Canterbury New Zealand on Thursday, August 31, 2006

Released 17 yrs ago (8/31/2006 UTC) at Landcare Research in Lincoln, Canterbury New Zealand



I really enjoyed this book, although it is surely a tale of misery. I found George was only just drawn in enough detail for me to appreciate his motivations. I can see why this won Whitbread Book of the Year. Was tempted to add it to the permanent collection, but instead thought I'd try releasing it in a new location, the bookshelf in the photocopy room at work. Happy reading to the finder, and why don't you give bookcrossing a try? If you do decide to join up, tell 'em I sent you!

Edited to add: (Note, ***possible spoilers below - mouse over white text to read***)
After re-reading FutureCat's journal entry, I thought I'd add in my thoughts about the narrator and her wheelchair. I didn't perceive her to be emotionally crippled, so I saw it more as a comparison with Jonathan's anger. He had the most god-awful "childhood" and let his anger from this mar the rest of his life. The narrator has some nasty disease that has crippled her for life, and about which she could be justifiably bitter. Yet I didn't sense much self-pity or anger from her. I thought, despite the author's comment at the end that two generations later they are still dealing with the effects of slavery, that it was a statement of hope.

My own question for the next reader: what on earth was that French dinner party all about?!

Journal Entry 7 by TheLetterB from Dunedin, Otago New Zealand on Friday, May 25, 2007
Picked this up from the bookshelf as since I released it, it seems either no one has read it, or if they have, they were not curious enough about bookcrossing to make a journal entry. Swapped it for a book with a Ballycumber logo in case there are any closet BCers in the tearoom at any stage!

Edited to add: Released to another BCer 2/6/2007

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