Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Undaunted Heart: The True Story of a Southern Belle & a Yankee General by SUZY BARILE

I am using my Blog to review some books by local authors, and the latest I’ve read is a wonderfully crafted addition to the host of books surrounding the Civil War, "Undaunted Heart," subtitled: "The True Story of a Southern Belle & Yankee General" by SUZY BARILE.

The book tells a love story that involves:

* prejudice

* politics

* family


—topics in the news on a daily basis.

The Yankee general is Smith Dykins Atkins from Freeport, Illinois, and a volunteer for the Union cause.

The southern belle is Eleanor “Ella” Hope Swain, daughter of David Lowry Swain, governor of North Carolina from 1832-1835 and president of University of North Carolina from 1835-1868.

BARILE writes, “Ella did the unthinkable: She married a Yankee general at the close of the Civil War.” A North-South marriage was as offensive to the general public in 1865 as a black-white marriage was in the 1960s.

The angle is unique to books concerning the Civil War, and BARILE does a fine job of recreating the attitudes of the times and capturing the spirit of Ella and the general.

BARILE has an extraordinary perspective. While searching in her mother’s attic, BARILE found a box of Ella’s letters. BARILE is the great, great granddaughter of Ella and the general.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 8, 2009 - The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully

It happens that I have gotten several assignments from The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (where I am a free-lance feature writer) to review books or to attend seminars when a book is discussed. A recent panel discussion concerned “The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully” by Joan Chittister.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects the population over 65 years will be 72 million people by 2030, about 20 percent of the total population. This is twice as many senior citizens as in the year 2000.

Few people look forward to aging, especially when they consider its effects: slower movements, medical problems, sagging skin, bulging middles, gray hair and most importantly, diminishing respect from younger people.

American culture concentrates on youth and beauty and doesn’t give much value to aging. Chittister acknowledges the disadvantages age brings, but she suggests people consider its benefits:
· Beginning of a new life
· Time to think of your purpose
· Wisdom of years
· Freedom, primarily from work, raising children and other restraints
· Developing another kind of usefulness

The list goes on. What’s the benefit of reading the book? A new perspective on aging.