The Beginning Of The Story

Book 1 of Journey Into Darkness

I am a student of history. The problem with history however, it is a subject that continues to grow of a daily basis. The consequences being that less and less time is devoted to particular historical events in the school system. This in my opinion is unfortunate as history offers much wisdom in helping understand the present by way of looking at the past.

The problem that I wrestle with is how do you interest young people in events from bygone times? Author J(oel) Arthur Moore clearly shares my concern and has created a four book set Journey Into Darkness, a look at the events of the civil war as seen through the eyes of a pre teen. The books are written in a style that I call ‘Faction’, a skillful technique of using actual historical events and weaving a fictional narrative around it.

What unfortunately is rarely discussed in history books, is the role that young boys played in the conflict. In today’s world it seems ludicrous to have kids as young as 12 involved. The Civil War was a very different conflict, while I dislike the overused term that it pitted ‘brother against brother’. It is fair to say that it was a war that was fought at the family level.

Joel uses Duane Kincade as his narrator. A young farm boy growing up in the Ozarks. At the tender age of 11 he finds himself thrust into manhood. With the Civil War on the very brink of erupting, his father has joined the confederate effort, Duane and his mother must tend to the farm, feed the animals, bring in the crops, and perform all of the maintenance.

The Civil War was not just about large battles, but also about small groups of unofficial marauders set upon creating as much havoc as possible. It is one such band that attacks the farm. The raid razes farm buildings, kills Duane’s mother, and Duane himself is severely wounded.

There is little to keep Duane in the Ozarks, his only hope is to somehow locate his father. This of course is easier said than done. It would be more than 150 years before the internet becomes available, the only real way of long distance communication was by post, and the combination of war and delivery system meant that it could take months for a letter to find its way to a recipient.

The only clue as to his fathers whereabouts is indeed months old. This does not stop the young boy from trying. His plan is at least sketchy at best, the chances of success are limited, but it is a chance!

On The Eve Of Conflict gets high marks. J. Arthur Moore certainly sets the stage for the rest of the series. What I like is his high level of knowledge, not just the cold facts often regurgitated in history books, but rather the social mores and lifestyles of the time.

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!