Sheldon Greene is an author that never fails to amaze me. Pursuit Of Happiness is the fourth Sheldon Greene adventure I have embarked on. Each one has been rich in story line and characters. Lost And Found  sets the tone of Sheldon Greene.

From there I played in his book Burnt Umber, it is a remarkable piece of part fact part fiction that compares the lives of German painter Franz Marc, and the American sculptor Harry Baer. It is a work of fiction, yet very luring.

Prodigal Sons was his third exploration, it is part Holocaust survivor story, part spy novel, with a dose of romance thrown in for good measure.

Three very different plots, three sets of very different character types, and three very different moods of writing.

In retrospect there is one common thread in the books, a clear love of art, in fact if my memory serves me correctly in real life he is somewhat of an art collector and aficionado.

I last interviewed Sheldon Greene soon after the release of Prodigal Sons, in the interview I asked him what his next venture might be. He was somewhat vague in his reply, saying only that he might set the background to the story during the Civil War period.

A year or so later I heard from Sheldon again “it’s done” he informed me, and did I want to read it? Well who doesn’t like being invited to a five star restaurant? Of course I wanted to read it.

‘IT’ was Pursuit Of Happiness. Historical Fiction is a notoriously difficult genre to pull off successfully. Fact and fiction have to be intertwined in a seamless fashion. There are many authors who have used the Civil War as a backdrop and some have found success, others have floundered. Few authors though have explored American Revolutionary War of 1776. The American colonists found themselves in a tough place. Although far from England it pitted George Washington against King George. One friend that the Colonists had were the French.

I rather like the background that Sheldon Greene has selected, much of the action occurs not on the battlefield, but rather from the Bahamas. This area that we now know today as a vacation mecca was actually a very strategic location to import much needed arms in support of the war effort.

Add some romance, some intrigue, and you have a fabulous story.

Can Philadelphia based Joshua Rutlege armed only with a letter of credit obtain the weapons needed to sustain the war? More harrowing is the how can Joshua avoid the patrolling British war ships?

I would be doing a disservice to the reader if I told very much more about the plot. However I will share these thoughts. Pursuit Of Happiness is a beefy read, it clocks in at 460 pages. But, it is a very rich read. The character development is excellent, something I have learned to expect from Sheldon Greene. As with his earlier books the reader also walks away with a new understanding about a historical event.

The civil war has been put under the microscope for decades, But is the ‘story’ used in school the correct one? I will leave it to more scholarly people than I to answer that question. However I will also add that an analysis of newspaper articles from the time shows a huge disparity between the coverage offered in the North and South.

You can order your copy of Pursuit Of Happiness from Amazon by using the link above.

Simon Barrett

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