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Sue Mundy: A Novel of the Civil War (Kentucky Voices)by Richard Taylor
Synopses & Reviews
On March 15, 1865, three weeks before the end of the Civil War, twenty-year-old M. Jerome Clarke was hanged as a Confederate guerrilla in Louisville, Kentucky, as a crowd of thousands looked on. In the official charges against him, Clarke's description included the alias ?Sue Mundy.? By the time of his execution, Sue Mundy had earned a reputation as the region's most dangerous and enigmatic female outlaw. Sue Mundy is the story of Jerome Clarke, a quiet orphan boy who follows a near relative into the ranks of the Confederate infantry. Following his capture by Union forces and his subsequent escape, Jerome joins John Hunt Morgan's notorious Raiders. After Morgan's death, Jerome becomes a Confederate ?irregular, ? one of the many guerrillas in Kentucky who ignored the rules of military engagement and the laws of the land. As stability and familiarity disappear from his and his compatriots? lives, Jerome is unwillingly transfigured by the chaos of war and the efforts of an ambitious journalist into Sue Mundy, she-scourge of Kentucky Unionists. Richard Taylor seamlessly joins narrative and history to tell the compelling story of the Civil War in a state dangerously divided, neighbor against neighbor. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Sue Mundy reveals the psychology of one of the Civil War's most fascinating figures while providing an accurate account of this tumultuous period in American history.
"Taylor (Bluegrass; Earth Bones), a former Kentucky poet laureate, mines the state's history and legends for an intriguing if uneven account of one of the Civil War's most enigmatic figures. Taylor's protagonist, Marcellus Jerome Clarke, an orphan and a sensitive adolescent, joins the Confederate army at 15 along with John Patterson, whom he 'idolized' as a 'second father.' When an unarmed Patterson is shot in the face, Clarke vows revenge and fights as one of Morgan's raiders and, later, as a guerrilla. With Clarke's vaguely feminine appearance — smooth face, shoulder-length hair and slender build — it isn't long before he's misidentified as Sue Mundy, a 'she-devil in pantaloons,' in a local newspaper's account of the guerrillas' raids. Instantly famous, Clarke is hunted and eventually captured, court-martialed and hanged in March 1865. Taylor is more successful in portraying battle scenes and the tension that ran thick in the bitterly divided state than in navigating Clarke's psyche, which remains thin. But fans of the Civil War and historical military fiction will appreciate the author's depiction of war in a border state." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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