Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Read - All Other Nights


All Other NightsAll Other Nights

By: Dara Horn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
"How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him - on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn't to murder the spy, but to marry her." Based on real personalities such as Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy's Jewish secretary of state and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond, All Other Nights is a story of men and women driven to the limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

My thoughts:
I listened to this one rather than reading it - but it was a great way to pass time in the car as I drove around on errands and heading to and from my classes.

This was an aspect of history that I had never even thought of - spies in the Civil War. And then to get even more detailed let's take it up a notch with Jewish spies in the Civil War. This topic was wonderfully researched and chosen in my mind. The attention to details, to how the lines moved back and forth, adding in the Jewish culture - so often over looked in the finaces and weaving in characters such as Judah Benjamin and Edwin Booth made the listening experience so enjoyable.

Jacob was hard to listen to sometimes - I just wanted him to grow a spine, to say no. To refuse to kill his uncle or to have more strength than to play with the heart of a girl, even if she was a confederate spy. I wanted him to stand up to his commanding officers and make them realize what all they were asking of him. But the beauty of the book is that Jacob wanted the same things of himself.He was horrified to see how easily he did it himself.  It was an example of  how flawed a character can be and yet we still root for him. Because in him we find ourselves.

There were some amazingly cringe-worthy moments of antisemitism in there too. But it was accurately reflecting sentiments of the time. I am amazed at how far we have come. Not because of where we are now, but because of how bad the world used to be. 

For those who are wanting a Civil War novel (it is most definitely a novel) with a thrilling plot which keeps going until the end I would highly recommend All Other Nights.

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