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All Parts Together

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Success Stories

by Tom Mach

ISBN 0974515949
Hill Song Press, 2006
352pp, paperback
Retail price $16.95

All Parts Together by Tom Mach takes us to a distressing time in American history, the Civil War, showing the reader a view from both sides of the war. This novel, the second in a series of the Jessica Radford trilogy, re-enacts the events that culminate in the highest casualties before the war’s end.

The main character, Jessica Radford of Lawrence, Kansas, is a feisty independent young woman who centers her life fighting against slavery and freedom for all people. Jessica has a strong conviction in what she believes but is undecided about her own future and whom she wants to spend her life with. Borderline marauders murdered her parents and her home town was burned to the ground. Nellie, an adopted sister and former slave child, was taken away and sent back to the South leaving Jessica alone except for a few grieving relatives and friends.

Jessica moves to Washington DC with remaining family and becomes a writer dedicated to her cause against slavery, while her nurse friend Mary stays behind tending wounded Northern soldiers. They both vie for the attention of a young half-Indian minister, Matt Lightfoot, and eventually all three characters must come to terms with the real meaning of love and commitment.

This romantic storyline is woven into the book and reflects on the daily life and circumstances of the time against the background of the war. The chronicle switches from North to the South and parallels what was happening simultaneously in both parts of the divided country, using Jessica as the core of the story.

As battles rage from Kansas to Washington DC, a heroic band of boys and men march to fight and are led into the darkness of death. Commanders and soldiers on both sides fall when the cannons blast across the bloodied earth and bullets fly into the bodies clothed in blue and gray. All around the battleground strewn with dead and wounded the agonizing cries of soldiers in pain could be heard.

As men fought in the woods and fields, family existence went on as best as it could day by day. This period became especially difficult for southerners who were starving as the war ended. Fallen soldiers returned home broken and forlorn to wives that survived by doing the unthinkable. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, they soon realized that the world did not accept them because of their skin color. The political climate in Washington remained stormy when President Lincoln was re-elected to his second term as well, resulting in hatred towards the freer of slaves.

All Parts Together is difficult to put down, and is filled with all sorts of information blended together in one very good story. The historical documentation of battles, military leaders and adversaries, politicians, senators and presidents presented in the novel brings it credibility and the writer shows his in-depth knowledge of not only history but literature from writers of the era as well. Highly recommended reading!

Open Book

Review by Nancy Golas-Flinn Ludwin