4 out of 4 stars
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It’s 1861. Decker Brown has returned from his apprenticeship in Boston. He dreams of marrying Paula Crane, the only woman he has every loved, and opening his own illuminations (fireworks) factory. Before Decker can put his dreams into place, the Civil War tears apart his future. Because of his experience in Boston, Decker opposes slavery. Paula is torn between Decker, who she hasn’t seen in two years, and the values with which she grew up. Decker prides himself on being a Virginian but refuses to fight for slavery. He goes west to fight for the Union Army, hoping to avoid fighting his fellow Virginians. This decision sets in motion events which cause him to use his skills in rocketry, leading him on a most unusual path. Paula is led on her own path of enlightenment as the world around her changes before her eyes.
Most of us in the United States have a general understanding of the Civil War. What we don’t think about are the new technologies invented during that time. The Dread Tribunal of Last Resort by Brian Kaufman explores the difficulty of developing rocketry during the politics of the Civil War as part of Decker’s story. The book describes rocketry in enough detail that the reader can clearly understand the mechanisms without getting too tiresome. Decker’s journey is interesting and carries the reader in its current. The accurate descriptions and explanations of the life of a soldier are, at times, very vivid allowing the reader to share in Decker’s experience. I enjoyed the authenticity of the book.
Paula’s story reinforces the main storyline in the book and allows the reader to better understand Decker and his morals. Her experiences explore a different side of the war, the civilians who weren’t on a battlefield. The balance of Paula’s story helps to round out the book. Without her journey, the reader would not have a full picture of Decker or the effect of the war on other parts of the country.
The storyline was strong until closer to the end when Decker once again decides to go west. There was a distinct feeling of a dropping off. The ending was more of a start to a second book. It is possible this was the author’s intent, but it did not flow well.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The reader is made to feel and understand Dexter’s dilemmas as he makes his choices. This book causes you think about your own moral compass and what decisions you would make if faced with those same circumstances. I recommend this book, because it does make you think and feel. It draws you in to the American experience on the battlefield and in the aftermath of the Civil War.
No spelling or grammatical errors were found and the book appears to have been professionally edited.
Dread Tribunal of Last Resort
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