Historical Fiction is a genre of writing that is historically difficult to pull off. Weaving fiction with fact takes great precision, it is a challenge not for the feint at heart. The facts are cast in stone, they cannot be changed. As if this were not difficult enough, author J. Arthur Moore decided to make his life even harder!

Let me explain. The author is a retired educator with over four decades of experience. The focus today in education is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), while this is laudable it means that many other areas are languishing, certainly one of those areas is History. This saddens me, as much about the present and even the future can be gleaned from understanding the past. In a very bold step J. Arthur Moore is trying to level the playing field. Write a book about America’s most contentious period, the Civil War, and do it in such a fashion that will appeal to middle and high school readers.

The approach taken by the author is an interesting one, the story is told through the eyes of a young drummer boy. Duane (Dee) Kinkade may only be 11 years old, but he is on a mission of the utmost importance, he is in search of his father . Dee has little to go on, other than a letter that explains he is with the Confederates in Tennessee. Dee signs on in Pittsburg landing and sees his first action at the Battle of Shiloh.

Wounded, he finds himself in the care of the Union army. Not as a prisoner, but as an 11 year old victim of war.

Up From Corinth explores the events from the Battle of Shiloh through the period following the Battle of Stones River.

It would be a gross injustice to the author and potential readers to discuss the plot very much more. Instead I will make some observations. Prior to reading Up From Corinth I had the opportunity to talk at some length with J. Arthur Moore, what impressed me most was his passion. I asked him what his goal for the book was, his reply surprised me “I want to see it in schools, I want to see it used in History classes.” At the time I thought the author was maybe not firing on all eight cylinders. Who has ever heard of a fiction book being used in a History class?

However, I was wrong, and I apologize for thinking what I did. Up From Corinth has much to offer the inquiring mind. The Civil War is one of the (alas too few) periods of history taught in our schools today. Most text books are dry and boring on the subject. It is not about dates, places, and number of casualties, it is a complex story of beliefs, ambitions and direction for a country that needed unity.

J. Arthur Moore takes the reader behind the scenes, yes his main characters are fictional, but he uses them to factual ends. This book does have a place in schools, I think it would be the perfect adjunct to a Civil War class. It would also not be out of place in a Social Studies environment. It also has a place in everyone’s home library. It is so well constructed, it is a waste to limit the target to schools. Likewise the age group. Up From Corinth is not just for the YA (Young Adult) crowd, I passed that mark over 40 years ago! 

I found that as I was reading my thirst for knowledge gene was activated. My wife thinks I am pretty strange at the best of times, this morning she found me tearing apart a closet “What are you doing”? “Civil War research” was my reply. She went and hid behind her computer! Actually I told the truth, I was searching for some Civil War material to check out the factual aspects mentioned in Up From Corinth. Yup, everything that J. Arthur Moore uses as fact is indeed fact!

You can order your copy of Up From Corinth from Amazon by using the link at the top of the page, or from better book stores everywhere. There is also a supporting Web Site that is worth a visit.

Simon Barrett

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