Reviews prepared by staff members of the Library of Virginia
Julie A. Campbell, Editor
Lee Miller, Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2001. xv + 362 pp. $25.95 (hardcover).
Lee Miller attempts to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony, which was located on Roanoke Island, tucked in the sounds behind North Carolina's Outer Banks. In 1587 John White sailed for Britain, leaving 117 settlers on the island. When he returned three years later, they were gone. For too long, Miller contends, historians have been content to accept the official version of the colonists' fate and to attribute the colony's failure to the inept governance of John White and the Spanish Armada. Rather, Miller argues, the efforts of the colony and its founder Sir Walter Ralegh (as he spelled it and as most modern scholars do, although Miller does not) were sabotaged by a powerful enemy, Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State.
Miller states that by destroying the colony, Walsingham accomplished two things: the removal of a troublesome group of religious separatists, and the removal of Ralegh, his most dangerous rival for Elizabeth's favor. Walsingham guaranteed that the colony landed at Roanoke Island in a hostile environment, rather than along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. He blocked all efforts by Ralegh and White to rescue those who had been stranded in the New World by his machinations. Walsingham succeeded: the colony was lost, Ralegh's prospects diminished under Elizabeth, and under her successor, James I, he was executed.
Miller offers an intriguing explanation as to what happened to the colonists. A very small group found its way to friendly Indians on Croatoan and are lost to her tale. The larger group settled inland among the natives. Later, these Indians and colonists were attacked by other native tribes that killed, enslaved, or adopted the English. Twenty years later, Indians tantalized the settlers at Jamestown with stories about people like them. At times unknowingly close to finding the missing colonists, the Jamestown settlers were the first to be puzzled by the lost colonists' fate.
Miller's tale is intriguing; however, it suffers from her writing style. First, she does not enclose quotations from sources in quotation marks but renders them in italics: "Scrambling up a sandy bank, White cries out. He has found something, an astounding discovery. Cut into a tree, in the very brow thereof, were curiously carved these fair Roman letters: CRO."
Second, she writes in a melodramatic tone punctuated by incomplete sentences: "There are times when the ocean seems uncannily human. Ask any sailor, and he will recount for you its many changing moods. Coy, playful, slumbering. Fierce. But worse than these is a rising sea, neither one thing nor the other. Frightening in its indecision." Such stylistic oddities make it hard for the reader to follow the flow of her assertions and thereby damage her arguments.
-reviewed by Trenton Hizer, Private Papers Archivist
Lucia Stanton, Free Some Day: The African-American Families of Monticello. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2000. 192 pp. $13.95 (softcover).
In this well-designed and readable book, Lucia Stanton offers the fruits of her research and that of her colleagues: the stories of the enslaved people who lived at Monticello during Thomas Jefferson's life. Stanton mixes the few reminiscences and letters that survive, Jefferson's Farm Book and other of his writings, materials from Monticello's archaeological excavations, and the oral histories of the descendants of Monticello's slaves, into a story of how people such as the Hemingses, Jupiter, George, and others struggled to maintain their humanity in a cruel situation by learning skills, earning their master's trust, and holding their families together.
Stanton brings to life the people who made Monticello and Jefferson's other farms work. Reading their stories is to appreciate the difficult situation in which the enslaved African Americans found themselves. Faced with few options, they nevertheless learned skills that enabled them to win their master's trust. Tipped in at the back of the book are family trees of the Jefferson, Hemings, Gillette, and Hern families, and of two couples (George and Ursula, Jupiter and Suck) that attest to the vitality of these families.
Over his life, Jefferson owned more than six hundred enslaved African Americans. Stanton skillfully blends facts about individuals with the larger context of black labor on Jefferson's various farms. She explores the lives of Jupiter, George, Ursula, Davy Hern, James Hubbard, and their relatives, many of whom labored on the farms or as skilled artisans in the plantation shops. Jupiter, the same age as Jefferson, moved from personal servant to hostler and coachman, in which position he oversaw the Monticello stables. Additionally, he learned stonecutting from William Rice and worked on the east portico of Monticello.
George became the de facto overseer for the Monticello and Tufton farms, and his wife Ursula was a cook who also oversaw the annual bottling of cider, ruled the dependencies, and served as a wet nurse for the Jeffersons' children. Her son Isaac became a skilled blacksmith.
The Hern family included Davy, a skilled woodworker, his wife Isabel, and twelve children. Knowing that Jefferson supported family stability, several of the Hern sons who married women from other farms petitioned Jefferson to buy their wives and to keep their families intact. Their son Davy regularly traveled between Monticello and Washington, D.C., not only to bring materials to Jefferson but also to visit his wife Fanny Gillette, who was being taught French cooking at the White House. Jefferson was not immune to rebellious slaves, however. On two occasions, James Hubbard ran away using false emancipation papers and wearing purchased clothing to disguise his status as a slave.
The longest chapter is devoted to the Hemings family, five generations of whom worked at Monticello during Jefferson's lifetime. Although Stanton mentions the recent genetic tests and historical research, which suggest the intimate relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, here she is more interested in detailing how the Hemings children and grandchildren fit into the Monticello hierarchy and how the family fared after Jefferson's death in 1826. Betty Hemings, her children, and her grandchildren occupied an exceptional position in the life of Monticello. They worked in the house, were excused from fieldwork during the annual wheat harvest, hired themselves out during Jefferson's long absences from home, and traveled with Jefferson. As the most visible of enslaved laborers to family and visitors, the Hemingses even wore clothing that was markedly different from that of the other slaves.
Stanton concludes with the dispersal of Jefferson's estate in 1827. Some of the slaves attempted to minimize the breakup of their families by arranging for local farmers and businessmen to purchase sons and daughters. Often the strategy worked.
While debates continue over the paradox of Jefferson's belief in the principles of liberty and his active participation in the institution of slavery, the men and women fleshed out in Free Some Day testify to their ability to negotiate and survive their bondage.
-reviewed by Barbara Batson, Exhibits Coordinator
Marc Leepson, Saving Monticello: One Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built. New York: Free Press, 2001. 320 pp. $25.00 (hardcover).
In our time, the visitor to Monticello could easily succumb to the notion that the broad lawn and architectural laboratory that was Jefferson's house appear today just as he knew them. We are slightly aware of the intrusion of a few well-concealed concessions to the modern age, such as electrical lighting and climate control, but generally the illusion that Jefferson could step across the threshold today and feel at home is carefully maintained.
Saving Monticello shatters that illusion and in the process tells the story of a determined and colorful Jewish family who first purchased the property in 1834. Lieutenant Uriah Phillips Levy, an important but headstrong figure in U.S. naval history, bought what had been a failed silkworm plantation on Jefferson's little mountain and began the process of repairing Monticello.
As an asset owned by an enemy officer, Monticello was confiscated from Levy by the Confederate government. This meant the house and grounds again fell into decline during the Civil War and the years following, while the title remained in legal limbo. In 1878 a visitor to the site noted, "There is scarcely a whole shingle upon [the house]. The windows are broken. Everything is left to the mercy of the pitiless storm. The room in wthich Jefferson died is darkened; all around it are the evidences of desolation and decay."
It was only the care shown the house by Uriah Levy's aptly named nephew, Jefferson Levy, that saved Monticello from destruction. Beginning in 1879, this wealthy New York financier resolved the legal entanglements surrounding the estate and lavished a considerable portion of his fortune on the property. His motivation for saving the house, even though it was never his actual residence, was simply his enormous regard for Jefferson.
Leepson does an excellent job of unraveling the complicated line of Monticello ownership. Along the way, he introduces the members of the Levy family who fought the effects of time and weather, vandalism and anti-Semitism to preserve this most important testimony to the mind and talent of Thomas Jefferson. Supporting players in Saving Monticello include Lafayette, Teddy Roosevelt, and William Jennings Bryan, all of whom visited Monticello and were profoundly impressed with this architectural and historical gem.
Jefferson Levy eventually capitulated to a national movement begun by a hysterical New York socialite named Maud Littleton in 1911 to make Monticello a national shrine. The house was sold to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923, ending more than a hundred years of stewardship by the Levy family.
Throughout the long history of Monticello and its various owners, one thread is constant: The thousands of visitors who for almost two hundred years have been drawn to this remarkable structure and have paid their respects at the grave of its extraordinary architect, Thomas Jefferson. Happily, the role of the Levy family in the preservation of Monticello is now recognized in displays and narrative histories presented to the public who tour the mansion. Saving Monticello is a thorough and enjoyable record of that long-neglected story.
-reviewed by Selden Richardson, Senior Archivist for Architectural Records
Sally Hadden. Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001. xi + 340 pp. $32.50 hardcover.
This book is the first substantial scholarship published on slave patrols, and it makes important contributions to the literature on the antebellum South, the legal history of slavery, and African American history. The study is based on in-depth research into both public and private papers and treats Virginia and North and South Carolina from the early years of the eighteenth century to the end of the Civil War.
The first chapter traces the evolution of a unique legal tradition in the American South by which the slaveholding society attempted to govern the behavior of slaves and free blacks. The volume explores subtly and in detail the composition of the patrols, which consisted of a cross-section of Southern white society, not just poor whites, as some mistaken old accounts suggest. The patrols engaged in intrusive and often brutal treatment of both slaves and free blacks, even in good times.
White society looked to the patrollers as the first line of defense against domestic insurrection when emergencies, such as the American Revolution or the War of 1812, seemed to offer slaves an avenue of escape; or when uprisings, such as occurred in Richmond in 1800 and in Southampton County in 1831, presented real or imagined threats to the systems of slavery and white supremacy.
The final chapter describes the collapse of the legal slave-patrol system during the Civil War. An important eighteen-page epilogue places the slave patrols in an even larger perspective by demonstrating that they provided a post-war model for the Ku Klux Klan, which in many respects acted like the patrols but without any effective legal constraints.
The epilogue and the excellent chapters on who the patrollers were and how the system operated in times of crisis will probably interest the largest number of people. However, the chapter titled "In Times of Tranquility: Everyday Slave Patrols" may be the most important in describing the constant presence in the lives of ordinary black people of an armed and organized force that could victimize them almost at will.
-reviewed by Brent Tarter, editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
Mark Grimsley and Brooks D. Simpson, eds., The Collapse of the Confederacy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 201 pp. $47.50 (hardcover).
Even after Robert E. Lee ordered the Army of Northern Virginia to lay down its arms, hope that the South could still win was alive. Even though the Confederacy's most celebrated fighting force had ceased to exist, President Jefferson Davis remained unbowed. "I think we can whip the enemy yet, if our people will turn out," he informed his cabinet two days after Lee's surrender. The conflict was not fated to end precisely as it did, and this collection of essays takes that premise as the starting point for discussions of the various factors impinging on the war's conclusion.
Steven E. Woodworth writes about the end of the Confederacy and the negotiated peace. Coeditor Grimsley, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, examines Southern generals during the final weeks of the Confederacy. The other editor, Simpson, a professor of history at Arizona State University, studies the Union high command. William B. Feis re-examines Davis and the possibility of guerrilla warfare. George C. Rable investigates the collapse of Confederate morale. Jean V. Berlin wraps things up with a question in her chapter entitled "Did Confederate Women Lose the War?"
The book examines a period that has received insufficient attention, and students of the conflict will benefit from a reading of the issues these essayists raise.
-reviewed by Don Gunter, assistant editor, Dictionary of Virginia Biography
John S. Salmon, The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2001. xii + 514 pp. $29.95 (softcover).
Salmon, newly retired staff historian of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, has written a definitive guide to the state's Civil War battlefields. Several years ago, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission found that 384 battles of the war deserved study and preservation. Of that number, a staggering 123 are in Virginia. Salmon used the commission's findings to shape his book. He was also spurred to action by threats of "development" that hovered over such important places as Manassas and Brandy Station. With the support of the Department of Historic Resources, the National Park Service, and the American Battlefield Protection Program, he went to work.
Turn to p. 270 and the section on Spotsylvania Court House for an example of the book's nature. Well-researched, solid prose tells what happened during those early days of May 1864. An excellent map by Stackpole Books' art directors Caroline M. Stover and Wendy A. Reynolds clearly shows battle lines, historic and modern roads, locations of historical markers, and other features. Boxed text contains directions to and around the site, and an illustration by contemporary artist Alfred R. Waud shows weary soldiers preparing for an assault on the Mule Shoe, where for 23 hours combat raged. Further enhancements include a glossary, an extensive bibliography, a list of major preservation organizations, and an index.
"This guidebook serves several purposes," writes Salmon. "The most obvious objective is to inform and direct you to the battlefields, then guide you around each one. Another is to educate visitors and landowners alike about the battlefields, their current integrity, threats to their continued existence, and opportunities for their preservation. Most important, I hope you will appreciate the fragility of these national treasures and help to preserve them." This book belongs in the glove compartment of everyone who likes to visit Civil War battlefields, and it belongs on the shelves of libraries all over the state.
-reviewed by Julie A. Campbell
Samuel C. Shepherd Jr., Avenues of Faith: Shaping the Urban Religious Culture of Richmond, Virginia, 1900-1929. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001. xii + 414 pp. $44.95 (hardcover).
Samuel C. Shepherd, a professor of history at Centenary College in Louisiana, is a native of Fairfax County. He says that, like other residents of northern Virginia, while he was growing up he viewed Richmond as a bastion of the Old South, "a community with few discernible contributions" to the twentieth century. Now, after years of research, he argues that Richmond in the first quarter of that century was a dynamic industrial city with a dominant Protestant religious culture committed to social activism to solve urban problems.
At that time Richmond was a center for religious publishing, and Shepherd mines the several denominational newspapers published there to illuminate the responses of Richmond's churchmen and churchwomen to social and religious issues. Indeed, the book's notes and bibliography run to nearly 100 pages.
Although one of the interpretive themes of the book is Richmond's religious diversity, to keep the book within bounds Shepherd focuses on six mainline, white denominations: Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and Lutherans. Protestant Richmonders generally practiced what they preached, but they only partially accepted blacks, Jews, and Catholics.
Nonetheless, just as the city's religious leaders objected to the religious tests and adversarial stance of the Fundamentalists after World War I, they also helped to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from gaining significant support in Richmond. The churches' past experiences of interdenominational activity and cooperation facilitated this rejection of divisive issues and organizations.
Shepherd argues that as the churches responded to urban conditions, the multiple demands made on ministers led to development of specialized roles for lay leaders, including lay women. The expansion of leadership, interdenominational cooperation, and the systematic planning and organization for bringing about social reforms also bolstered evangelism.
A consequence of the churches' social activism, then, was an increase in the number of churches and church membership. Avenues of Faith is a significant contribution to the study of southern religious history, and it is also a model for how to incorporate churches and religion into local history.
-reviewed by John T. Kneebone, director, Division of Publications and Educational Services
Earl Swift, Journey on the James: Three Weeks through the Heart of Virginia. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001. 239 pp. $27.95 (hardcover).
In 1998, Earl Swift, a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, shoved a canoe into the headwaters of the James River and paddled all the way to Hampton Roads. For three weeks, he and his colleague, photographer Ian Martin, filed stories with their paper and ate more Taco Bell food than seemed humanly possible. Swift has turned his dispatches into a book brimming with humor, a love of history, and a palpable ache at the damage humans have inflicted on the mighty James.
Swift mixes stories of the modern people and places they encountered along the way with stories of historical events that have occurred along the river. The chapter this reviewer found most memorable was "Day Twelve: Thirty Years After the River's Worst Night," in which Swift recounts the sudden devastation that hit part of Virginia in 1969. "After Hurricane Camille, the landscape had so changed in parts of Nelson County that topographic maps were obsolete," he wrote. "Mountain contours had shifted, riverbeds straightened or bent. Cropland lay deep under mud. Woods had vanished. Thirty years later, a watermark seven feet up the pine paneling of Grace Episcopal Church in Massies Mill recalls the night the Tye River burst in, sucked the organ out a window, and carried it to the James."
Such dramatic and thoughtful stories, combined with tales of fist-sized spiders invading the canoe, prompt comparisons to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Kudos to those at the Norfolk Virginian-Pilote and the University Press of Virginia who allowed and encouraged Swift to turn his newspaper pieces into this enjoyable, well-written book.
-reviewed by Julie A. Campbell
Freedman's Bank Records The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, $6.50. Order from www.familysearch.org or 800-537-5971, item #50120 (CD-ROM)
African American genealogical research is not for the faint hearted. A basic strategy is to trace an individual family backwards until they can be located in the 1870 federal census. Prior to 1870, research becomes difficult at best. Specific records may only be found in the personal papers of the slave owners as the federal census listed slaves by name only if they had reached the age of 100 years. Surnames were either not used at all, were different in one generation from another, sometimes duplicating that of a specific owner, sometimes borrowing that of someone greatly admired, sometimes using a name recognized only within the slave community, and sometimes not used at all.
The records of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company represent a major resource for tracing former slaves and their families into the time period prior to the Civil War. The bank was established by an act of Congress on 3 March 1865 for the benefit of freed slaves and former African American military personnel. Registers of Signatures of Depositors in branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company between 1865 and 1874 contain the records of the 29 branches of the Freedman's Bank. These original records, preserved as National Archives Microfilm Publication M816, asked depositors for their name, date the account was opened, age, place of birth, where brought up, complexion/height, residence, occupation, employer, spouse, children, father, mother, siblings, remarks, and a signature or mark. In addition, a wife's maiden name or name of former spouse as well as military unit for a veteran might be served. Early forms might include name of the former slaveowner and the plantation where the individual lived.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' recently published Family History Resource File CD Freedman's Bank Records provides an index to these records, and by providing access to 480,000 names contained in these records is a major tool in identifying African Americans and recreating their families during this time period. Take the case of James Barclay. The index states that his spouse was named Sarah, his father was Steve (no surname), his mother Hannah (no surname), and that he was born in Natchez, Mississippi. He applied for an account in the New Orleans branch on 28 October 1872 at age 33. This information provides clues to locating James in the 1870 federal census, and moves the researcher quickly back to 1839, the year of his birth. A search for his parents in the index identifies three other children in the family group. Or take the case of Mollie (no surname) who was married to John (no surname) before 1808 and who had sons named John Halfort and Daniel Bedne. The Freedman's Bank Records may be the only source to link these two men with their mother.
The CD requires Windows 95 or NT 4.0 or higher and 8 MB of hard-disk space. No separate viewer is required, and the CD loads quite quickly even on a less powerful PC. A basic surname search can be displayed as name + a PIN number used to quickly go to other names in the file, surname + dates, surname + spouse, or surname + parents, in order to assist in pinpointing the correct individual. A Soundex type search can be done by setting search parameters quickly bringing all surnames that sound alike together. Wildcard searches are also available. Once an individual has been selected, a quick search will identify all indexed relatives of this individual. A small inconvenience is the number of entries at the beginning of the alphabetical surnames list that represent entries with no names or with inaccurate dates given due to GEDCOM errors. This problem, however, poses no problem when searching a specific surname, or even a specific given name unassociated with a surname.
Family group sheets, kinship reports and a variety of descendant and ancestor charts can be quickly configured and printed as well as narrative reports. Finally, a GEDCOM file can be exported for use in a family genealogy program of the researcher's choice.
The CD is easy to use and does not require lengthy instructions. The help screens are easily accessed and understood. At $6.50, the disk is a welcome addition to a library's genealogical collection, particularly in libraries with a demand for African American genealogical resources.
-reviewed by Carolyn Barkley
Chalmers Archer Jr. is a recently retired professor and administrator from Northern Virginia Community College. In 1992 he wrote the award-winning Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi about his youth in the 1930s and 1940s. His new book covers his military service in the next decade: Green Berets in the Vanguard: Inside Special Forces, 1953-1963 (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001. xiv + 139 pp. $28.95 hardcover). "I remember a feeling of excitement, awe, and anticipation on that bright morning in 1952," he begins. "I was about to start my first six months at the Psychological Warfare Center, at Fort Bragg, home of the U.S. Army Special Forces." His recollections are valuable at any time, perhaps more now than ever.
John F. Blair, Publisher, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has published two interesting and very different books. In Ghost Dogs in the South (2001. xxiv + 287 pp. $16.95 softcover), folklorists Randy Russell and Janet Barnett compile twenty tales. The stories are scary, funny, and poignant. Some of the animals appear in ghostly form, like Preston, a Boxer in Nashville who saved a child's life-after Preston had lost his own life the day before. Other faithful hounds, like Pepper, the only Virginian in the bunch, tried but failed to tell his mistress about the otherworldly nature of her mysterious husband. Delightful old photographs of dogs and their proud owners add to the well-told stories, some of which are set in recent times.
Blair also has issued Walking the Path of a Legend: On the Trail of Robert E. Lee, by Clint Johnson (xix + 186 pp., $12.95 softcover). "This is your guide to both the major Lee sites in Virginia and West Virginia and lesser-known sites in distant states," says the back cover. "From Texas, where he was sent to chase Indians; to New York, where he rode his horse down Broadway; to Florida, where he picked oranges as an elderly tourist. Taken together, they will let you as far as is possible-stand where General Lee stood and see what he saw." Photographs, maps, and directions help readers find their way.
The University Press of Virginia has issued two new titles in its popular Virginia Bookshelf series, softcover reprints of noteworthy books. The first is a satirical treatise by the prolific Virginia writer James Branch Cabell, Let Me Lie: Being in the Main an Ethnological Account of the Remarkable Commonwealth of Virginia and the Making of Its History (Charlottesville: 2001. xix + 286 pp., $17.95 softcover). First published in 1947, it was met with silence and has, in the words of R. H. W. Dillard, director of creative writing at Hollins University, "been generally ignored even by Cabell scholars for roughly half a century." An example of Cabell's observations: "In Virginia a tacky person is one who, so nearly as I can phrase his deficiency, does not quite know just how to behave in the way that well-born Virginians tacitly expect an equal to behave in civilized intercourse. B[I]f he does not know, by sheer intuition, that unworded code which is customary among the indigent, well-bred inner circles of Virginia, why then he remains forever tacky."
The other offering is a 1969 novel by Robert Deane Pharr, The Book of Numbers (Charlottesville: 2001. 382 pp. $18.95 softcover). Critics at the New York Times Book Review and Newsweek, among others, praised the tale of Dave and Blueboy, black men who worked as waiters and numbers runners in a fictional 1930s Richmond. Author Pharr was born in Richmond in 1916, received a degree from Virginia Union University, and studied at New York University, Fisk, and Columbia. Despite his academic training, he made his living as a waiter at racetracks. In his new afterword, Jabari Asim, a book editor at the Washington Post, calls the book "a lost gem."
Louisiana State University has published two books of poetry by Virginians. Messenger (Baton Rouge: 2001. 75 pp. $24.95 hardcover, $16.95 softcover) flows from the pen and mind of R. T. "Rod" Smith, who lives in Rockbridge County and edits Shenandoah at Washington and Lee University. This is the second book in a trilogy, "Dreaming in Irish." Readers and dreamers will appreciate the poem titled "Reading Groups":
Five blackbirds sat in the corner circle,
slow with books, Miss Noonan claimed.
Cardinals and Robins croone
the antics of Dick and prissy Jane
for extra milk and tinfoil stars
while my flock struggled. We read
aloud or doodled. I preferred
Genesis, Grit, The Atlanta Constitution
("Covers Dixie Like the Dew"),
reports of train wrecks,
Lester Maddox, Tech football
and barbecues. Stop that cloud
gathering, her stern voice said.
Her plastic ruler slapped my hand,
but I was elsewhere, wind-borne, flying.
The welt across my palm burned red
as the rose on a blackbird's wing.
Dana Littlepage Smith, a Richmond native who lives in England, offers her first book of poetry, Women Clothed with the Sun (Baton Rouge: 2001. 116 pp. $26.95 hardcover, $19.95 softcover). In sensuous verse, Smith finds words for ninety women from the Old and New Testaments. In "Susanna," her subject commands:
Slice cucumbers, beloved
& drape the mint green room
with scarves of silver.
The day has come for an end
to mourning; let the elders drink brine.
Our drink, Joakim, will be the dew.
They sleep in dust, I bring you
silken pillows. Let woe become
the skirl of night. Dawn rises
when I find you.
And finally, two works of historical fiction about Virginia and Virginians. Virginia Beard Morton has written Marching Through Culpeper: A Novel of Culpeper, Virginia, Crossroads of the Civil War (2000. Edgehill Books, P.O. Box 1342, Orange VA 22960. 544 pp. $27.99 hardcover). Morton grew up in Richmond and has lived in Culpeper for thirty years. Ron Carter's new book is Prelude to Glory, Vol. 5: A Cold, Bleak Hill (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2001. xvii + 557 pp. $22.95 hardcover). This installment in a series of novels about the Revolutionary War follows George Washington and his soldiers to Valley Forge.
-reviewed by Julie A. Campbell