A Separate Country
Grand Central, Sep 2009, $25.99
In 1879 in New Orleans former Confederate General John Bell Hood is dying from yellow fever. He has one death bed wish that his memoir of the past decade instead of his Evil War account be published. He asks Tennessee transplant Eli Griffin, who came to New Orleans four years earlier intending to murder the Rebel general for his defeat at Franklin, to promise he would..
After the South lost the war, Hood moved to New Orleans trying to make a go as a businessman who lost the use of an arm and had a leg amputated during the hostilities. He married Creole Anna Marie Hennen and they had eleven children together raised in abject poverty, which deletes the élan of life from her. Their relationship took another negative spin when Anna Marie’s best friend is murdered and Sebastian Lemerle arrives to extort money from his former commander in order not to reveal an ugly secret he knows about Hood from their Texas days together. Others like Rintah, Beauregard and the KKK forerunner want a piece of the war hero too.
This is a deep historical thriller told mostly as an autobiographical account of a major Southern Civil war general. The story line is vivid as the audience sees a teetering New Orleans trying to rebound from the defeat, but reconstruction is hampered by racism, cheating opportunism, and overall amoral behaviour that debilitate the energy from those playing fair. Robert Hicks provides a strong look at life in a battered pandemic depressed Deep South.