James and Kevin Bannon, Brothers introduced in Look Away, continue to serve on opposing sides as the Civil War enters it third year, James with the 4th Virginia Infantry and Kevin commanding a company in the 4th New Jersey. From the dark and inconclusive days of the Mine Run Campaign in the Fall of 1863, through the terrible ‘Forty Days’ that took the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to the gates of Petersburg, the brothers soldier on. James, with Lee’s Army, watches as it slowly bleeds itself to death defending the state he has grown to love. Kevin, living with the realization his brother is serving in the army his nation is committed to destroy, is torn between a desperate search for James and his terrible duty as an officer, leading men he has grown to love into battles that claim their lives, one by one. While the Bannons deal with their struggles on and off the battlefield, the women they love are faced with their own desperate struggles. Mary Beth McPherson, amid the devastation that years of war have brought to Winchester, Virginia, strives to hold her surviving family together and somehow maintain their farm, all the while clinging to the hope the man she has grown to love will return. In the North, Harriet Shields, daughter of a prominent New Jersey judge, sets aside the duty and dignity of her social class and, with Kevin’s full support, ministers to the needs of the wounded under conditions that try her resolve, her stamina, and often, her own faith. As the war drags on, claiming more lives and crushing the sprits and hopes of those who endure it, James and Mary Beth, and Kevin and Harriet come to understand that even if they survive, the world they knew will never be regained, that their futures have become as uncertain as their own survival. Yet each resolves, for his and her own reason, to carry on as best they can, until the end. Powerful, moving, sometimes brutal, but always vivid and authentic, Until the End is a mastery novel of the Civil War and a superb conclusion to the saga begun in Look Away. Quote from W.E.B. Griffin on Until the End; “A superbly talented story teller, Harold Coyle brings to the battles of the past the same authenticity and dramatic impact that distinguishes his best selling contemporary war novels.” Quote from Tom Clancy; “The best natural story teller I know.” Quote from Stephen Coonts;“An epic from a gifted story teller about people caught up in the maelstrom of that extraordinary war that laid the foundations for modern America. Coyle puts you in the ranks with a musket in your hands and bullets whizzing around your ears.”
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Until the End concludes the adventures of James and Kevin Bannon (begun in Look Away ) and their fights on opposite sides of the Civil War. Edward Lewis brings the characters to life as he tirelessly reads of the actions and horrors of war and their effect on men far from home. As the story progresses, Lewis's presence disappears from the narration, and the listener is drawn toward the bloody war, the Bannons, their companions in war, and their families. Coyle's words and Lewis's narration make the bitter battles around Richmond at the end of the Civil War come alive. M.B.K. (c)AudioFile, Portland, MaineFrom Kirkus Reviews:
The concluding work in Coyle's splendid two-volume series on America's Civil War. Look Away (1995) followed the star-crossed Bannon brothers, James (a gentleman ranker in Virginia's Stonewall Brigade) and Kevin (a captain with the 4th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry), from their troubled but privileged youth in the Garden State through a brief face-to-face encounter at Gettysburg. The narrative at hand (which provides background enough to stand alone) picks up the parallel stories of James and Kevin after Gettysburg and tracks them through the endgame of a horrific conflict that proves more an endurance contest than a noble cause. Although James and Kevin never meet again on a battlefield, they are unwitting antagonists in many of the Eastern Theater's bloodiest campaigns. Among other near-miss collisions, James marches with the ragtag forces assembled by Jubal Early to menace Washington in mid-1864, while Kevin, still weak from wounds, commands a motley company of convalescents and Army clerks hastily armed to defend the seat of federal government. In their few respites from close-quarters combat, the brothers take comfort in two fine women, Kevin with Harriet Shields (a headstrong lass who, against her family's wishes, has gone south to nurse Union casualties) and James with Mary Beth McPherson (sister of a slain comrade). The fortunes of war throw Harriet and Mary Beth together when the latter's homestead is requisitioned as a front-line aid station in the wake of a Yankee rout of rebel troops near Winchester, Va. They soon part, and hostilities grind on until the North captures the Confederate capital of Richmond, where Mary Beth has gone to work in a munitions factory. Shortly thereafter, James (hopeful that the nation's suffering can now lead to national reconciliation) lays down his arms at Appomattox and heads North with Mary Beth, whom he's married, for a bittersweet reunion with Kevin and Harriet. A haunting, human-scale account of a cruel war. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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