American Spirit
by Roger Smith

"Hiram, this ain't right for you to have to live like an animal in some cave just because you can't fight for the confederacy and you can't fight against it."

Over two hundred and fifty years of one family’s history is recounted in Smith’s sweeping saga that takes readers from Scotland to Ireland, across the Atlantic, and eventually to America. It is a tale as intent on correcting historical perceptions as it is on telling a multigenerational story. Fortunately, in doing the latter, the former is achieved as well.

The adventure begins with a young Scot’s flight from poverty and oppression in his homeland. He travels to Ireland, but there he and his family continue to experience class and racial prejudice that holds them back. Eventually one son wrangles a way to ship out for the New World that is America. He takes with him not only his family’s love, but also an abiding faith in God that he will pass to his own progeny.

From 1750 to 1864 readers experience the tumultuous times that surround the sons and daughters of this Scots-Irish family. The author does a skillful job of moving from one generation to the next and vividly brings to life both the everyday events and the extraordinary incidents that filled their lives in Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Smith’s dramatization of the wrenching moral conundrums faced by young men caught between staying home and protecting their families versus leaving to fight in America’s Civil War, form the book's last episodes. His depictions of the dangers, fears, and hardships wrought upon poor and middle class southern families are some of the book’s most moving set pieces. Similar in some respects to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, Smith's novel is historical fiction that intrigues, engages, and lingers long after the last page has been turned.

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