Joan Brady Theory Of War

ISBN 13: 9780679419662

Theory Of War

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9780679419662: Theory Of War
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The narrator of this searing novel is the granddaughter of a slave. Her grandfather, Jonathan Carrick, was a white man. He was sold just after the Civil War to a struggling Kansas tobacco farmer - a common enough practice in those days when black slaves were no longer legal and the children of destitute soldiers were being marketed. You could pick up a white kid cheap, and Jonathan, only four years old, went for fifteen dollars.
Woven together from his coded diaries and from memories of the embittered family, the harrowing story that emerges is that of a child denied his past, "bound out" to a brutish man (whose justification is "You get you an animal, you got to break him"), trussed and staked to the floor of the sod hut to keep him from running away, worked endlessly at planting, harvesting, picking off tobacco worms by hand, wrapping tobacco plugs (while the other children go to school), and - the ultimate humiliation - bullied by the soft, resentful son of the family, George Stoke. Through it all the anger burns, yet the fire forges an uncanny strength in the child.
He bides his time. And then the railroad roars through the prairie, stopping at Sweetbrier, Kansas, and provides escape - freedom in the rough boomtown of Denver and a ferociously dangerous career as brakeman, astride the cars on the TransContinental Mogul heading into the Rockies.
In the railroad yards, College, a gabby fellow runaway of sorts, befriends the helpless young man; in a bar in Cheyenne a fire-and-brimstone preacher fights for his soul; in a windswept farmhouse in Maine he finally gets the education that had been withheld. Jonathan survives - survives his "idyll with God," his education, his uneasy marriage. But the rage keeps breaking through, and always it is George Stoke, now a fat "cobra of a politician," known as the "fearless liberal" senator from Kansas, who is the target.
The strategies of war - fueled by hatred - are what keep Jonathan Carrick in fighting trim. But as Joan Brady makes devastatingly clear in this brilliant and disturbing novel, the cost of slavery to flee human spirit is overwhelming, and her account of one man as victim leaves, in the mind of the reader, an enduring scar.

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From the Inside Flap:

vid historical novel--part poignant biographical fiction, part raw frontier epic."
TIME
Taking flight from an extraordinary real-life family history, here is a riveting novel of how the past lives on, generation after generation. THEORY OF WAR is the richly imagined story of one woman's journey into what a distant relation might have experienced--and how echoes of his suffering haunt his descendents to this day.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A white slave in post-Civil War America: that's the hook for this semi-autobiographical fiction. Brady has already written a novel (The Impostor, 1979) and an autobiography (The Unmaking of a Dancer, 1982); here, she reconstructs a life of her grandfather, the slave. Jonathan Carrick was a so-called ``boughten boy,'' purchased at age four for farmwork; he ran away at 16; four of his children would commit suicide. What interests Brady is identity. How is it formed if you are a solitary slave-child? Mulling over the question are narrator/granddaughter Malory Carrick and her uncle Atlas, a son of slave Jonathan. Sequences from Jonathan's life (slaving on a Kansas tobacco farm; riding the railroads, free at last, as a brakeman) are interrupted by discussions between niece and uncle (Atlas has his memories; Malory has been reading the coded diaries) about the meaning of Jonathan's life (the reader becomes a student at an offbeat seminar). Malory sees her grandfather's life fueled (and corroded) by hatred, not for slavemaster Alvah Stoke so much as for Stoke's son George, Jonathan's vicious tormentor. The slave is a model soldier in his war against George, striking opportunely, beating him until he is surely dead, then escaping. Twenty years later, a newly ordained minister, he will lose his religious faith when he discovers that George is alive and flourishing, a US senator; it's war again. Jonathan does get a life (he marries, has children, becomes a successful farmer, albeit a lousy husband and father), but his rage never subsides, returning him to the battlefield for a final confrontation with the Senator when both are old men. There are problems here: awkward format, awkward fact/fiction straddle, overworked war analogy, hokey showdown. Yet this deliberately rough-edged work does command respect for its blistering anger at the poison of slavery in the bloodstream of the Carricks...and America. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780449909133: Theory of War

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ISBN 10:  0449909131 ISBN 13:  9780449909133
Publisher: Ballantine Books, 1994
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