About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Like Two Books in One

Gone: A Heartbreaking Story of the Civil War
By Shelby Foote
A Photographic Plea For Preservation
By Nell Dickerson
BelleBooks, Inc. (2011), Hardcover, 120 pages

Forward: not rated/unread
Short story: rated 5 stars
Photos: rated 5 stars
Photographer's notes: rated 2 stars
Afterward: rated 4 stars
Whole book rated 4 stars of 5 possible

Gone: A Photographic Plea For Preservation is almost like two books in one. It is comprised of two main components, a short story by famed Civil War Historian, Shelby Foote, first published almost exactly 90 years after the civil war ended, and the photographs of his cousin, Preservationist, Nell Dickerson, who also wrote the photographer's notes and afterward, which closes the book on a hopeful note. Additionally, there's a forward by Robert Hicks, which, I'll admit, I did not read.

I requested this book for review through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, but was not lucky enough to receive one of the limited number of review copies. Shortly after discovering that I had won a different book, an email from the publisher provided a link to the online version of Gone - which shows only half the pages, and mostly photos at that, while I wanted most to read the story, but the online version was enough to prompt my purchase of the book, which I had been considering anyhow.

Shelby Foote's short story, "Pillar of Fire", and his cousin, Nell Dickerson's photographs are almost a point - counterpoint performance. At the beginning of Pillar of Fire, Shelby details the aristocratic society that was prominent in the south prior to the Civil War, while the photos provided by Nell Dickerson show what has become of some of those beautiful homes and other buildings, which comprises a plaintive plea for preserving our past.

Later, the story tells of the wanton destruction perpetrated by the northern soldiers as retaliation for the rebels firing upon the yankees... except that such retaliation was not against the rebel soldiers, but instead done to innocent bystanders who just happened to be in the way. This part of the story, and it's dramatic ending strike a note of anguish as haunting as the note of the photographic plea.

In considering my rating of the book as a whole, I do have to say that the photogaphs are not as well-matched to the story as I had hoped they would be, and most of the photographer's notes don't provide as much information about the homes and other buildings as one could wish. While the photos themselves are wonderful, that lack of information in the notes is enough for me to downgrade the rating on that part of the book. Shelby Foote's story is well-written and gripping. I had a hard time putting the book down while reading Pillar of Fire... would have rated the entire book higher if there were only this text and/or if the photos were a better match.

This review (for which I received no financial compensation) has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and wherever else I may deem appropriate.

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