Ghosts of War: The Killing of Captain Wesley Riden
by C. Mark Riden, M.A., M.Ed.
Gotham Books

"The bearded men lead their ghost platoons,
With marching orders in hand,
To steal the day and promise to pay
The debts of war demand."

This intriguing work by a former serviceman, anthropologist, and descendant of Captain Wesley Riden is a compilation of poetic works, including the author's own, plus much regional history as well as a genealogy of his family. The author demonstrates his prowess as a military historian as, episode by episode, he weaves his family's history in the south and the southwest U.S. with that of the tribal people of that region and describes how individual families of many ethnicities and tribes participated (or not) in the white people's wars. The author notes that "A bevy of full-blooded and mix-blooded Cherokee families became personally affected by war and internal political conflict." Of note among the Cherokee people is the Honorable Chief Louis Downing, who is said to have served in both the Confederacy and the Union.

Riden's book covers a lot of geographic and historical territory. The author, who is involved in many issues related to service people in battle, presents the reader with a vast amount of information concerning many generations of communities at peace and war. The number of stories of marriages and relationships, births and deaths, relatives' lives, and anecdotes from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. However, although the overall flow of the narrative would be enhanced through some additional editing, the sheer amount of material and personal information that Riden has gathered, discusses, or explains in his work is truly remarkable. The author's book will likely be a significant addition to American history.

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