Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters, by award-winning author Frye Gaillard and newly published by NewSouth Books, has garnered strong early reviews. Readers praise the elegance of Gaillard’s prose and the insight of his commentary on a very personal topic: his ancestors’ Civil War experiences and his own changing view of the war from his typical Southern upbringing through his adult reflections on its effects and meaning.
Writing for the Tuscaloosa News, Don Noble notes that Gaillard “is now recognized as one of Alabama’s most prolific and most important non- fiction writers with books on Southern literature, civil rights, NASCAR, country music, Jimmy Carter and, generally, all things Southern.” Of Journey to the Wilderness, Noble says Gaillard “structures his own meditation on the past in a candid, informed, beautifully written commentary on a series of excerpts from a collection of Gaillard family Civil War letters.”
Historian Mike Bunn, who blogs at The Historian’s Manifesto, says, “Frye Gaillard features a carefully-selected and edited batch of correspondence that, combined with his own commentary, offers a sweeping look at how the Civil War was anticipated, endured, and remembered by the people who lived through and helped shape our collective memory of the conflict. Journey to the Wilderness is a provocative book.”
The Charlotte Observer declares, “Frye Gaillard has done a great service by publishing these heartbreaking letters from three men who recorded their thoughts on the battlefield and the many relatives who waited at home, sometimes in vain. He has helped us accept the fact that pain — both physical and mental — far exceeded the so-called glory of that horrible war.”
The Montgomery Advertiser calls Gaillard “a thoughtful writer” and notes, “It is very hard to stop reading this book. His insightful commentary and the letters he includes let readers see the emotional conflicts the war brought and left in its wake. In Journey to the Wilderness, Gaillard [finds] no magic wand to resolve the war’s legacy, but he does enable the reader to understand it better.”
Critics agree that Journey to the Wilderness is one of the best reads yet from one of the South’s most important writers.
Journey to the Wilderness is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.