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Hallam's War [Hardcover]

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Item description for Hallam's War by Elisabeth Payne Rosen...

Hugh and Serena Hallam's family prosper on their cotton farm in late 1850s Tennessee until the Civil War erupts, causing Hugh to join the Confederate Army and forcing Serena to hold onto the farm, slaves, and family.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   464
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.7"
Weight:   1.45 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 27, 2008
Publisher   Unbridled Books
ISBN  1932961496  
ISBN13  9781932961492  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Reviews - What do customers think about Hallam's War?

War Within and Without  Sep 13, 2008
Seems like, with all the novels that have been written about the Civil War, we would have difficulty encountering a fresh voice or a new perspective. Both of these goals are achieved in Elisabeth Payne Rosen's first novel, Hallam's War. Hugh Hallam is a Mexican War veteran turned farmer. He has moved his family from civilized Charleston to rural East Tennessee and is keenly aware of the increasing anger of his neighbors as the events leading up to the Civil War unfold.

But, Hugh is not quite in synch with his neighbors. His farming practices are more advanced and his crop yields are higher. He sees his slaves as human beings and is uncomfortable with the prevailing view of fellow Southerners. He knows war is coming and worries about his wife, Serena, and their children. His restlessness is highlighted when the Hallam family hosts John Varick, a Northern journalist, sent South to write a series of articles for his newspaper.

When war breaks out, Hugh becomes a valued Confederate officer and is involved in the Battle of Shiloh. His oldest son, Lewis, also joins and Serena is left to hold things together on the farm. As the war wears on the Hallam Family endures, but at a price.

Payne's characterizations are strong and true to life. Hugh Hallam's war is one that is within as well as unrelentingly around him. Each character resonates with the reader and Payne's writing feel fresh and clean, and skillfully portrays their thoughts and feelings. This is tremendous accomplishment for an author making her debut. I look forward eagerly to future endeavors.
Understanding why  Aug 30, 2008
Like Ursula Hegi's powerful Stones from the River in which neighbors gave up neighbors to the Nazi's out of fear for themselves, Hallam's war is the first book that helped me begin to understand how self interest seduced even moral masters like the hero Hugh into slavery, because there was no choice. Rosen makes real how the system trumped the individual, how one could not be a cotton farmer without slaves no matter how well intended toward one's slaves or how moral a life one tries to live. I am grateful for her insight and for a very good read. For me, the book triumphs in its details, great descriptions that felt authentic and fresh and a gift of language. I don't think I'll ever hear of "mint juleps" again without remembering how they were made when they were called juleps, nothing more.
Excellent portrayal of a devastating time in our history  Jul 29, 2008
Elizabeth Payne Rosen hits the nail squarely on the head in Hallam's War, her first novel. Hugh Hallam is a man ahead of his time. He understands the "need" for slavery in the agricultural-dependent south, but is torn by the grim reality of what slavery truly is. Ms. Rosen doesn't sugar-coat Hallam's feelings, nor does she denigrate all southerners for the position they chose to be in concerning slavery. She also doesn't make slavery the central cause of the unavoidable conflict. True to history, she shows it as one of several contributing factors. The subject of the book that intrigued me the most was her treatment of the war itself. The reader can feel the excitement of the days preceding the battle at Shiloh, Grant's troops traveling downriver in riverboats, gunboats and every floating vessel available to save the day for the Union on the second day of that horrible battle that claimed over 12,000 lives. As a living historian (Civil War reenactor) and having read hundreds of accounts of the "real" soldiers who lived during that time, fighting and dying for what they believed was right, I feel that Ms. Rosen has captured that spirit in Hugh Hallam and in this book. I highly recommend it.
Hallam's War Brings Alive the Civil War South   Jul 15, 2008
How could "good" people own slaves? That's the question that Elisabeth Payne Rosen asked as she began her talk at our local bookstore in Marin County, California. (We bought our copy at Book Passage!) And her protagonists in "Hallam's War," Hugh Hallam, and his wife, Serena, certainly would be considered "good." Yet they owned slaves. How could they?

To answer this question, Rosen places Hugh and Serena in the cauldron that was West Tennessee just before and during the Civil War. She brings you into the intimate lives of both "good" and "bad" characters and beautifully illuminates the choices they made (or were forced to make) across a society in moral upheaval.

We see Hugh Hallam struggle against the raw physical frontier, as he promotes new farming methods to preserve the land. We see Hugh try to lessen the brutality of slavery by trying to enable slave families to remain intact. All of this set against the daily rhythms of cotton growing in the hot, humid summers of the South. Yet ultimately Hugh must make a decision. Should he fight for the way of life that he loves?

Rosen's novel struck a loud chord with me because just two months before reading "Hallam's War," I spent a day in the Russellville (Arkansas) Public Library researching my own family, some of whom left in 1852 for California and some of whom stayed through the Civil War. And in 1876 en route to Philadelphia to celebrate the Centennial, the California relatives visited with their Arkansas relatives. So the two branches must have had some interesting conversations!

A story about one of my relatives in a local history really jumped out at me: "Soon, because of the war activities, it became impossible to till the land and keep the slaves, so the slaves were set free and eventually all families ordered to sign pledges under oath that they would not feed or assist the Southern soldiers in any way. Some signed, but Adalissa refused -- so she and her children, along with others who refused to sign, were sent to Texas."

Now, one hundred and fifty years later, I find my California family tangentially related to the Confederacy. Who knew? But I love our whole family. So I e-mailed this story to Rosen (full disclosure: she's a friend). And she replied, "Yes, many women/families had experiences similar to Adalissa's. I even have it in my book, when Serena reviews her increasingly narrow options:"

"She prayed for a sign from Hugh, some word that would absolve her in advance for what she meant to do. She would not--could not--take the oath. But if the planters in Fannin County were forced to do so and she refused, they would be sent outside the Union lines with only what they could carry with them." (p. 346)

Yes, Serena is a "good" person. But even she could not sign a loyalty oath. Thus, "Hallam's War" beautifully illustrates the moral complexities of race and society that reverberate down through history to the present day.
The Relevance of Hallam's War   Jul 13, 2008
Elizabeth Payne Rosen's first novel, Hallam's War treats the period leading to the Civil War as it affects the family of Hugh and Serena Hallam and their slaves on Palmyra, their farm in West Tennessee.

As a Southerner (Louisiana born and raised), Rosen captures the pace of life, exemplified by her unhurried telling of the story, the quality of Southern nights, and the slave dialect.

I started reading Hallam's War knowing very little of slavery apart from UncleTom's Cabin and The Known World and the little I learned about the cotton economy of the Civil War. All I knew was that slavery was bad, but through the sense of the characters' place in society and their diverse viewpoints, I came to appreciate the moral dilemma of how one man could own another and yet be righteous, which ultimately culminates in Hugh Hallam's plain-spoken yet profound insight:

"You had to deal with what was put in front of your
face -- you couldn't just keep going back until you found somebody you could blame it [slavery] on. You had to put a mark, here, under your feet the day you were born, or the day you accepted responsibility for who you were, and another one, there, the day you died. That was all you could hold yourself accountable for."

Timeless and universal, the human condition of his realization resonates in our lives today: Slavery, still very much with us all over the world, genocide, racism, violence, intolerance, and, of course, war. Where do we mark our own accountability "here" and "there?"

At the end of the novel, when Markie, the slave who raised Serena, opens her arms to her on her return, home -- "Chile, chile..." -- it is the catalyst that releases not only her grief, but also the reader's compassion for her and all those bereft by wars throughout time.

It is not so much the novel's historical accuracy and attention to detail that distinguishes it, but its moral and emotional power that crosses the centuries to nip at our heels.


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