4 out of 4 stars
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We Are All Americans by Richard A Radoccia recreates the events leading up to the American Civil War and describes the time during the war when too many had to sacrifice existence and home for the principle of human equality. Categorized as historical fiction, the book goes far beyond typical war-themed works. There are a handful of characters introduced in the book, but the focus is on three key historical figures— Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Frederick Douglass.
In We Are All Americans, the author explores a fresh way of storytelling by letting commentary from on-scene reporters of the war, including Danielle Burke and Jackie Chase, do the talking about what’s happening moment to moment. The book moves between the northern and southern states (the two sides that endured the war), allowing many different settings, issues, strategies, and points of view from either side to come to our attention.
Though the Republicans had gained power through constitutional means, the slave states had started seceding in an attempt to change the status quo with respect to slavery. Even before Lincoln had taken the oath of office, the governor of South Carolina had set the ball in motion to consider secession. Soon after, many southern states were inspired to follow South Carolina’s example and join the Confederate. Things take yet another drastic turn as soon as Lincoln is sworn in: he is forced to raise an army to protect Federal property as South Carolina starts bombarding Fort Sumter. Douglass is seen to realize, subsequently, that time has come to allow the conflict to happen as the matter of freedom vs. slavery was something that couldn’t possibly be solved without a full-fledged war.
The book feels like a well-laid-out documentary. Each protagonist in We Are All Americans seems to talk about factual events while themselves being witness to a soul-stirring time of human struggle. In chronological order and through quotes from the historical figures mentioned above, we see how the political struggle between the Union and the Confederate progressed and ultimately ended. We read all about how Lincoln valiantly stood by the cause of abolishing slavery, even when faced with the possibility of not being reelected again (something I am sure not many politicians of today are courageous enough to do). This book masterfully shows us how the United States came out of the Civil War stronger and more “united” than before.
The author shares many photos, political cartoons, and original newspaper clippings from the civil war days throughout the book. Right at the end of the book is a section titled “Image Credits” that provides more information on what happened in those days. The book itself comes full circle, beginning and ending in a time of peace where people have better things to do than wage wars.
There are a few grammatical errors, but I did not find that they distracted me from the flow of the book. For example, there are occasional articles left out at certain places and some misplaced punctuation marks. These minor errors are negligible in the full context of the book, but a detailed proofread would bring this book to the next level.
I found the book to be long enough to be informative and short enough to qualify as an easy read. Taking all these points into consideration, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I feel a deep connection with the main characters in this civil war story as they journey through the fear, sadness, and subsequent victory that comes with any kind of long-term conflict. Overall, the narration is compelling, and the messages presented throughout the book are moving and thought-provoking. I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and to anyone who feels that some of our world leaders need a fresh new look at the story of humanity. However, if the thought of bloodshed and images from the war impact you too negatively, this might not be too appropriate for you.
We Are All Americans
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